The first thing I’d like to say is that the BBQ community has lost a true pioneer this year, Mr. John Willingham. John meant so much too many people in and around the BBQ world. He leaves behind a legacy that cannot be equaled and he will truly be missed. Our prayers go out to the Willingham family.
This year’s contest started out really rough. Torrential rains left Tom Lee Park in as bad a shape as I have witnessed. Many of the spots were nothing more than knee deep mud pits. The mud created such a traffic jam at load in that some teams had to wait in line for up to 6 hours. It was nasty.
But once the transportation volunteers had everyone in place the contest ran smoothly. The mud finally dried out for the most part, and the weather for the rest of the week was pretty great. We had a little rain on Friday morning, but nothing that got int the way of our contest or catering.
My team, Killer Hogs, had a great spot right on the banks of the Mississippi River. We held down the south end of Tom Lee Park in the shoulder division. This is the second year we’ve had that spot and hopefully we’ll get it again next year. We might miss a lot of the main action, but we’ve got the best breeze in the park.
Quick video of the view from the top of our tent:
Memphis In May is really a week-long event. I’ve done the Royal and the Jack, but nothing compares to what it takes to set-up, get ready for and put-on an event like MIM…
We catered two events this year, so it wasn’t all fun and games. Our bbq did get rave reviews which always makes the hard work worth every bit of it. I do have to send a shout out to my friend Danny Montgomery from Tuscumbia River Bottom BBQ. Without Danny I would have been in serious trouble this year. He was with me every step of the way!
On Friday afternoon it was time to get the competition shoulders ready and get them on the smoker. We cooked 10 whole shoulders for our judging. The first 6 were for the preliminary rounds and the last four were held back a little in case we made finals.
quick video of me trimming shoulders on Friday morning:
Chell had our booth looking amazing on Saturday morning.
And Waylon built a beautiful blind box once again, and all of our onsite judges were wowed. I just knew it was our year to make the final go.
After word circulated about what teams made it, our heads hung a little low; but I knew that our product was really good. It had to finish in the top 10 I just had a gut feeling.
The great news of the day was that our fellow BarbecueLive.com partner Mark Lambert of Sweet Swine O’ Mine made the finals in the shoulder division. We had someone to pull for! I wanted to see Mark win the whole thing for the second time.
We were a little nervous at the awards ceremony because you just never know if the judges are going to be kind to you. When the announcer started the shoulder category, sure enough Killer Hogs were announced in 10th spot. It wasn’t exactly where we wanted to finish, but anytime you get to walk the stage at the World Championship it’s special.
When it came down to the top three spots in the Shoulder category Mark was indeed the last man standing. He vied for Grand Champion between the Hog and Rib categories. In the end my prediction was right. Congrats goes out to Mark and everyone on the Sweet Swine O’ Mine team! You guys did an outstanding job this year!
When it’s all said and done, we had a blast. We hung out with some old friends, made some new ones and I cooked BBQ on the banks of the Mississippi River for 4 straight days, so I was one happy man.
Now we have a whole year to plot our strategy for the next Memphis in May BBQ… we gonna get it!