The ‘Sport’ of BBQ

Mississippi summers are brutal.  They usually consist of high temps, high humidity, little wind and  long days.  So when the first hints of fall weather begin to sweep down, it does something great for the soul.  This weekend, we experienced some of that weather along with another soul-enriching experience—a bbq competition.


Photo: Team Smok’n Magnolia

I had the privilege of competing in the 5th Annual BBQ Downtown Showdown in Hattiesburg this weekend.  Our Team, Smok’n Magnolia (John Burkes, Bo Hrom, Charlie Bevon, Jason Lee, JT Tisdale and myself), provided a stellar performance.  We participated in all four categories, which were chicken, brisket, pork butt/shoulder and pork ribs.  The highest we scored was in the Smoked Chicken category, where we placed 9th out of 28 teams (shout out to Charlie Bevon here; he produced outstanding smoked chicken).   This may not sound very impressive, however, in my opinion, this was quite a feat given the level of competition and strict rules of the event. Apparently, bbq competitors are a subculture with a lifestyle unique to this “sport.”  There were several travel trailers completely outfitted for smoking, grilling and frying ALONG WITH living quarters.  Furthermore, some of the smokers looked more complicated than a small nuclear reactor.  But in the end, it comes down to 1 simple principle: slowing cooking meat.  And that’s what is so great.  You don’t have to spend a lot of money on your equipment.  2 of our 4 smokers were basic Weber smokey mountains.  There were guys cooking on 50 gallon steel drums.  And they turned out some great BBQ.

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Photo: Selecting brisket and chicken for judging


Photo: Our set up — two Weber smokey mountains and Jason’s red box smoker. Not pictured: Bo’s Myron Mixon

If you have any interest whatsoever in smoking and grilling, do yourself a favor and go to one of these events.  This was a serious KCBS (Kansas City BBQ Society) sanctioned event. The mission of KCBS (which I greatly appreciate) is “To recognize barbeque as America’s cuisine and celebrate, teach, preserve and promote barbeque as a culinary technique, sport and art form.”

Also, Brian Saffle of Signs First did a great job in organizing this event.  It is great for Hattiesburg and for people who love to smoke meats.