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Bosses of sauce ready to pile on the pork

Giants of the grill compete in annual barbecue cook-off at Brenau

POSTED: May 24, 2012 12:30 a.m.

Picture it like an old-fashioned Wild West showdown, the champion gunslinger staring down challengers on the dusty streets of a rustic pioneer town.

Only in this match, the cowboys are brandishing tongs and brushes, the ammo is smoked cuts of pork and the dusty streets are on the campus of Brenau University.

In this weekend’s fourth annual Brenau Barbecue Championship, set for Friday and Saturday at the Gainesville campus, top grilling chefs will again compete for the top prizes in the event sanctioned by the Memphis Barbecue Network.

More than 5,000 people are expected to attend. Last year’s event earned more than $80,000 for local scholarships.

Awards will go to professional winners in three divisions: Whole hog, pork shoulder and pork ribs. Amateurs will compete with Boston butt and ribs.

Among the top competitors taking part is Myron Mixon of Jack’s Old South in Braselton, winner of the first event in 2009. He’s the author of the New York Times best-selling cookbook “Smokin’ with Myron Mixon” and a star of the reality television series BBQ Pitmasters.

Since opening a restaurant in Unadilla in 1996 to showcase the sauce recipe of his mother and father, Gaye and Jack Mixon, his team has won more than 200 grand championships, more than 1,900 trophies, more than 40 state championships in Georgia and across the Southeast, and 11 national titles.

“He’s a rock star when it comes to barbecue,” said Jim Barco, Brenau’s senior vice president for institutional development who coordinates the event. “Two years ago, 15 people chartered a bus from Knoxville, Tenn., just to have their picture taken with him.”

Mixon, who said he plays “a pretty tough guy” on television, gives his audience what they want.

“A lot of times people want me to talk ugly when they come around me,” he said.

A maximum of 20 professional teams, including Dixie Que, Bubba Grills and Jurassic Pork will vie for the top prizes. In addition, 30 amateur local “backyard braggarts” squads will compete, many providing samples to visitors.

“There are no slackers on the pro side, and the backyard braggarts can come to my house and cook any time,” Barco said, calling many of the amateurs “pros in waiting.”

Visitors can take in food vendors, crafts and entertainment during the two-day cook-off.

Festivities begin Friday with a preview party from 6-9 p.m. headlined by Drippin’ Wet and featuring the North Hall High School jazz band. Admission is $10.

Gates open at 10 a.m. Saturday, including children’s activities, regional music and a classic car show, which runs until 3 p.m., while the rest of the fun continues until 6 p.m. Admission is $5.


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