Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Barbecue TV show comes to Blue Ridge Festival

Has it really been 20 years? I was a judge for the first Blue Ridge Barbecue Festival and I swear it doesn't feel like it was longer than, oh, 19 1/2 years or so.

But festival founder Jim Tabb called to tell me this is indeed the big anniversary and big events are afoot: The Destination America show "BBQ Pitmasters" will be at this year's festival, June 14 and 15 at Harmon Field in Tryon. Tabb's daughter Lee Ann Whippen, a barbecue chef in Chicago, has been on the show and helped to bring them to Tryon.

If you've never been to a barbecue competition, it is a different animal. There are teams that travel all over the country and spend a major amount of time and money to do this. Some come with full sets, like stages, and cook in costume. You can't get barbecue directly from the teams (well, not officially or legally, but if you make friends with a team, that's up to you). But there also are teams that are licensed to sell to the public, so there is barbecue to be bought.

Tryon's setting in Harmon Field is pretty, with a creek on one side and hills all around. It's also an easy drive from Charlotte, about 90 minutes to the northwest. Get the details at

And since I'm hoping to return as a judge for the first time in several years, I'll try to bring back some sights, sounds and as close to tastes as my grease-smeared iPhone can get.



Jimmy said...

I might give this one a try. I've competed in a few contests over the years, but haven't in a while. I came in 3rd place for pork in the amateur division of one of the early Charlotte Shout Blues, Brews, & BBQ contests. But they became too crowded over the years. I like the KCBS contests because it's all about the food. The little guys don't have the big bucks to do BBQ theater. The last KCBS contest I was in we came in 3rd for ribs, and 5th for pork and brisket. I think I was more proud of the brisket trophy. The family had to eat several practice briskets before I honed in on a decent recipe. Us Carolinians aren't used to beef being barbecue. If we can make it this year, hope to see you there.