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A competition of tongs, tongues
There's sure to be some friendly trash-talk, and hopefully some amusing aprons, once the rivalry heats up at this barbecue contest.
By LOGAN NEILL, Times Staff Writer
Published October 19, 2007
BROOKSVILLE - Their monikers read like a roster of outlaw motorcycle gangs or really weird bowling teams: Junkyard Dogs, Swamp Boys, Prime Time Smokers, Skin N' Bones.
Though they may not be hell on wheels, these folks definitely know a thing or two about fire and smoke. And on Saturday, when the 24 professional and five amateur barbecue teams take to their grills at Tom Varn Park for the Blazin' Butts 'N Brisket barbecue competition, you can bet there will be some bragging going on.
"That's part of the tradition of competitive barbecue," said Richard Anderson, one of the organizers of the event that debuted last October. "Wherever you go, you display all your trophies and ribbons to show your customers and your competitors how well you've done."
Anderson, who spent 11 years as Brooksville's city manager, is a certified competition judge with both the Florida Barbecue Association and the Kansas City Barbecue Society, two of the country's biggest barbecue contest sanctioning bodies.
He believes that this year's cook-off will once again attract some of the Southeast's top barbecue teams.
And the competition promises to be fierce.
Last year's grand champion Homebbq.com out of Oviedo, northeast of Orlando, will take on longtime Florida rivals Smokin' Cracker BBQ and Swamp Boys in the Florida Barbecue Association-sanctioned event. According to Anderson, it most likely will all come down to taste.
"That's where a team can really earn extra points," Anderson said. "It's definitely the toughest thing to judge."
Barbecue judging revolves around three essential criteria: appearance, tenderness and, of course, taste. The first two, Anderson says, are pretty straightforward. The final element is much more subjective, which is the reason why many a competition has ended with hard feelings.
Although pro grillers dominate the competition circuit, amateur "back-yarders" will have a chance to show their stuff as well. The five teams that have signed up for this year's Blazin' Butts 'N Brisket will be competing for special divisional honors.
Despite the outcome, Anderson says that this is one event where the barbecue-loving public always comes out the winner.
"We try to make it fun for everyone," he said. "If nothing else, people won't go away hungry."
The second annual Blazin' Butts 'N Brisket barbecue competition will be from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday at Tom Varn Park, off W Jefferson Street in Brooksville. Admission is free. Call 544-5435 for information.