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BBQ cooks fire up for Laurel Park competition

POSTED: May 18, 2013 12:06 a.m.

Crowds came by both car and by boat Friday to the kickoff for the second annual Hawgin’ on Lanier barbecue competition at Laurel Park.

The Jimmy Buffet tribute band Pirates of the Opry opened the event. Proceeds from this benefit concert went toward the Hall County Animal Shelter’s Adoption Programs.

While most of the crowd enjoyed the concert, the 5-kilometer obstacle run and car show, participants in the cook-off prepped for today’s championship event, sanctioned by Kansas City Barbeque Society and Georgia Barbecue Championship.

Ticket sales and proceeds for today’s championship competition will benefit the Gainesville Jaycees. Judges and competitors are overseen by representatives from the Kansas City Barbeque Society.

Competitors began cooking their competitive meats as early as 11 p.m. Friday evening and planned to continue cooking until the start of the competition this morning.

The competition consists of four meat categories: chicken, which will be judged at noon, followed by ribs, pork and brisket.

Richard C. Preston, a contest representative from the Kansas City Barbeque Society, is one of several representatives that will supervise to make sure the rules are followed.

In addition to the championship event, other activities will include a petting zoo, bounce houses and a train ride for children, along with a car show for the adults. The activities start at 9 a.m. and will last until 6 p.m.

The contest winners will be announced at 5 p.m. today for all categories, including the coveted “Team of the Year” award. This advances teams to the next level of national competition.

According to Preston, there is one meat that usually decides whether a team makes it to Team of the Year or not: brisket.

“It’s the toughest piece of meat to cook,” Preston said. “That makes them or breaks them, right there.”

Preston says the concert helped to draw others to the event that may not be quite as interested in the competition as the teams are.

“It’s something that will draw people down here,” Preston said. “Barbecuing is not much of a spectator sport.”

As far as the team members are concerned, especially John Coon of the House of Q competition team from Birmingham, Ala., the goal is to “win money and trophies!”

Coon said Friday his team would not start cooking until 1 a.m., but when they do start, they’re in it to win it.

House of Q has been participating in this championship event for 10 years. He said he trusts the integrity of the competition as well.

“We know the expectations and the reps are going to take care of the contest for us,” Coon said.

He said the enjoyment of the competition itself is what brings them from Birmingham each year.

“This is a great contest,” Coon said. He also said that although he welcomes everyone to try their selections and vote for their recipes, they will not be eating any of the barbecue.


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