With three incredible title sponsors: Brown Bottling Group, Mountain Dew and Cheerwine, this year’s BBQ Showdown is sure to be an extraordinary event. Brian says, “What makes our event special is that it is located in the middle of Downtown Hattiesburg's Historic Neighborhood, The Walthall Park. You park on the streets in front of old Victorian Homes and walk the sidewalks to the park. You can hear the music and smell the BBQ. It is a very family-friendly environment. I have had many teams tell me that it’s like a giant tailgate and they become friends with their BBQ neighbors for a weekend! That is one of the special things that keeps them coming back year after year.”
We had the pleasure of speaking with Brian about all of the event details, and we are thrilled to share them with you today!
Tell us the history behind the event - when did it start and what inspired it?
“I started to research different BBQ events and quickly found that BBQ had a very strong following and had created its own culture and the BBQ Cooking competitions had developed its own sub-culture from that. I sat down with Dianna Pennington, the general manager at the Keg and Barrel and John Neal, the owner. A few neighbors, Mike Madson and Brad Dufrane, who were BBQ enthusiasts, joined us and we hashed out a plan to hold a neighborhood BBQ. We figured we had a 2-3 year window to see if it was a success.
We mirrored the event to follow the Kansas City BBQ Society Rules and had 12 teams the first year and gave away $1500 in cash and prizes. The event received a lot of positive feedback and the second year we had 18 teams and gave away $2500 in cash and prizes. We all felt like we could build on the success but needed help in the judging aspect of the event. So we decided to pursue sanctioning of the BBQ by the KCBS (Kansas City BBQ Society). All the paper work was done and they granted us sanctioning of our event. This was the first event of its kind to be sanctioned in the city of Hattiesburg and we were able to attract 24 teams the 3rd year and gave away $10,000 in cash prizes. We were able to do this with the help of Brown Bottling Group, Cheerwine and Mountain Dew coming on board as our title sponsors.”
What can guests expect this year at the event?
“The Keg and Barrel will be providing the general public with an ‘All You Can Eat’ BBQ and sides. Brown Bottling, Cheerwine and Mountain Dew will provide soft drinks and we will have live music, several vendors and activities for children! With the purchase of a $15.00 wristband, you have the opportunity to walk around to participating teams, sample their BBQ and vote on your favorite! The winners will be will be announced at the end of the event."
What does the event benefit?
“On Friday night we will host The White Linen BBQ, and the proceeds will benefit The Extra Table. They have partnered with Sysco to deliver healthy and nutritious food to local food pantries and soup kitchens at below wholesale prices to help fight hunger on a local level. This ticket is $35.00 and will provide a BBQ dinner with all of the fixins’ from Cadillac Pig, beer, wine and soft drinks, music by Mark Mann, Carey Hudson and the Her & The Hymns, and a live auction. All of this takes place beneath the trees and lights of the beautiful Walthall Park next to where all of the teams will be cooking. The smell of BBQ is free to anyone who attends!”
Tell us about the BBQ Competition! How many teams will be competing this year?
“We have 25 teams signed up who will represent Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, and Arkansas. Almost all of these teams compete to accumulate points towards the KCBS American Royal World Series of Barbeque Invitational and the Sam's Club BBQ Tour National Championship. The prize money of $10,000 will be awarded to the Grand Champion, Reserve Champion, 3rd Place Overall, People Choice, and 1st - 7th place overall in each category of Pork, Brisket, Chicken and Ribs.”
How are the winners chosen?
"The KCBS provides (2) representatives to oversee the BBQ and the judging. There will be one certified KCBS judge for each team. They judge on Appearance, Taste, and Tenderness. Our judges have anywhere from 3 to 50 events that they have judged and are some have earned the title of Master Judge. KCBS Judges take their roles very seriously since these teams travel from far distances, spend a lot of money and time to compete in these types of BBQ events.”
This event sounds fun and unforgettable! Brian adds, “This year we have been selected by the KCBS as part of their 250KCBS program where their goal is to feed 250,000 people across the United States through their BBQ competitions. Each team will be asked to cook and return a Pork Shoulder provide by Sam's Club, purchased by the KCBS. We will have to opportunity to provide the cooked meat to Edwards Street Mission Food Bank here in Hattiesburg. This is a first for Hattiesburg and we are proud that we are able to help our community in this capacity.”
For more information on the Downtown BBQ Showdown, please visit their website here!