2012 Tour Stop #18 - Praise the LardSeptember 22, 2012
Praise the Lard
For three years now, Christine and I have made the trip from Southern Missouri to the promised land of Murphysboro, Illinois. This was the 25th year for the Murphysboro Cookoff, now affectionately known as the Praise the Lard Barbecue Festival and Cook-off held right down the street from the world famous 17th Street Bar & Grill.
This year, there were 62 teams competing in the KCBS contest with a dozen or so also cooking in the MBN competition. Most of the teams also cooked fish and wings for side contests on Thursday evening. Thursday was also the night for the annual fish fry at the 17th St. Warehouse, which was, needless to say, a fun experience for all. Friday night was Championship BBQ night and folks lined up early for the great eats. This year it looked like a ride at Disneyworld as people lined the sidewalk, out into the street and down the block. It was great to have a captive audience for my demonstration and while the folks didn't want to eat very much, I did get some to snack on some Smithfield® pork and Castle Wood Reserve® meat and cheese appetizers.
One great thing about Murphysboro is the team goodie bags they distribute which overflow a bushel basket including candies, apples, shirts, aprons, stationary, charcoal and Budweiser® beer! Another great thing about the Praise the Lard contest are the awesome trophies. They have hand blown glass apples on wooden stands for all the category winners and a chain saw pig with apple for the Grand Champion! In years past, the event has given away $17,000 combined in the KCBS and MBN contests, but with this being the 25th anniversary, they upped the prize money to $25,000!
Saturday was contest day and judges were roaming the street early and between turn-ins. Since the contest has both the KCBS and MBN contest at the same time, turn-in times are staggered a bit different than normally. There was also more public on the street than in years past, which just confirms the popularity of BBQ in today's society.
At the end of the day, A Pigs Worst Nightmare won the chicken category, Gilly's BBQ won ribs, Party Q won pork and Iowa's Smokey D's BBQ won brisket. Last year’s Grand Champion, Gilly's BBQ, won Reserve Grand this year which allowed St Louis Black Iron BBQ to snag their very first Grand Champion win. Way to go!