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Barbecue competition dishes up good food, fun to benefit scholarships

POSTED: May 26, 2013 12:34 a.m.

Car show at Brenau Barbecue Championship

Car show at Brenau Barbecue Championship, Brenau University, Gainesville, Saturday, May 25, 2013.

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Nat Gurley/The Times

Back In Time singer Jonathon Jackson sings to 2-year-old Riley Crook on Saturday at the fifth annual Brenau Barbecue Championship. Riley's dad Michael Crook plays trumpet in the band.

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Barbecue lovers and expert chefs from 37 teams around the area, state and Southeast gathered in a fun, down-home barbecue cook-off Saturday in the fifth annual Brenau Barbecue Championship at Brenau University.

The money raised went toward local scholarships for Gainesville-area students to attend Brenau.

Along with the cook-off, Gainesville’s Old Friends Car Club sponsored a classic car show with more than 100 classic cars lined up for spectators to admire and question the owners.

Organizer Jim Barco said the annual event is important because Brenau has been able to foster a sense of community in the area.

“Any way that Brenau can foster a sense of community belonging, can foster a sense that Brenau is a part of the community belonging, and bring people together, I think that’s a good thing,” Barco said. “I think all you had to do is look at the crowd last night, and the crowd today and you would see people of all ages, all races just enjoying their common love of barbecue.”

With bounce houses for kids, arts and crafts and live music, there was more than just a cooking competition.

“It’s also an incredible family event. This is not to presume there’s a bunch of guys out here looking at barbecue,” Barco said. “I’ve seen just as many moms and daughters, and just kids galore. Yes, it’s a fundraiser for local students. Yes, those people will likely stay in this community, and because of that it’s a way to raise the intellectual capital in Hall County and Northeast Georgia.”

For the local barbecue eateries, Saturday was a chance to show off their recipes. Bear Sloan of Lazy Bear BBQ has been a part of the competition every year and said it continues to grow.

“It’s a great turnout,” he said. “People loved it. ... I’ve been here ever since it started. There’s new faces in here every year. I’m one of the ‘trues’ that has been here every year, no matter what. The locals, they like it because it actually gives them a taste of what real barbecue is supposed to taste like.

“There are some bad, there are some good and there are some mediocre. People come walking by, ‘You have barbecue?’ They went through everything I had in a matter of minutes, and that was five shoulders. That’s a lot of meat.”

Rick Shaw of Rick’s Smokin’ Pig B-B-Q also has competed every year. He said before he had his restaurant, he used the BBC as a gauge to whether or not he should open one.

“We felt like our food that we turned in today was outstanding,” he said. “Our food was good. Same-type quality food that we serve at our restaurants. ... We normally, in the past, had always sampled. We were sampling because we wanted people to find out that we were going to open a restaurant in April 2010.

“We sampled a lot of product, and a lot of the people that sampled our product said that, ‘it’s so good’ that we need to open a restaurant. That’s basically one of the reasons we got into the restaurant business is because of the acceptance here at the Brenau Barbecue Championship.”

Dotty and Kim Gabrels have lived in Gainesville for 12 years, and attended the event every year.

“We’ve been living her 12 years, and coming (to Brenau) the last five years,” Kim Gabrels said. “We thoroughly enjoy it. It’s a lot of fun and a lot of activity, and the people are very nice.”

Kim Gabrels said the addition of the car show really helped the event.

“Look at all the children. They’re having a great time. They’ll remember this for the rest of their life,” he said.

The professional barbecue competition was sanctioned by the Memphis Barbecue Network. There was also a competition with a mix of amateur and professionals sanctioned by the Georgia Barbecue Association.

Dixie Que BBQ of Macon took home the $4,000 grand prize in the professional competition. It placed first in the rib and shoulder competition and second in whole hog, won by Diamond D Cooking Team.

With the win, Dixie Que members are on their way to Las Vegas for the World Barbecue Championship, set for Oct. 31 through Nov. 4.

Joining them in Las Vegas from GBA-sanctioned division is Smokin’ 42 BBQ of Tifton, which won the rib competition and stayed consistent in the pulled pork and pork loin cook-offs to win the $2,000 grand prize.

Smokey Butts placed first in pork loin while Sauced Hogs Smoke Shack won the pulled pork competition.


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