National BBQ Cup heats up Cumming

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CUMMING, Ga. — Barbecue enthusiasts didn’t let a little wind stop them from smoking some serious BBQ at the Cumming Fairgrounds.

The National BBQ Cup, held Nov. 16 - 17, housed barbecue fanatics from over 25 states competing for over $23,000 in prizes from the Kansas City BBQ Society-sanctioned event.

Chatty Town BBQ competitor William Smith of Ringgold, Ga. had to drop out of some of the competitions due to the wind.

“I lost my tent and the wind is doing a number on me, but I’m going to continue,” he said.

“This isn’t a hobby, it’s an obsession.”

Smith isn’t the only one to feel that way.

The event, in its second year, saw about 130 competitors vying for a first-place win.

The $4,000 grand prize went to Munchin’ Hogs at the Hilton, a Kansas City-based competitor.

Foggy Bottom BBQ took home first in the chicken category, while Two Old Men and a Grill won best ribs. Holy Smokes BBQ topped the competition in pork.

With a name like Pig Whisperers, it seems odd that they won first for beef brisket, but barbecue competitors don’t care about the name.

It’s all about the ’Cue.

“I’ve never tasted barbecue this good before in my life,” Jenna Stevens of Marietta said.

She wasn’t sure if she was eating chicken, beef or pork.

“It doesn’t even matter,” she said. “It’s just so good.”

Stevens wasn’t the only one to feel that way.

Over 10,000 people attended the event, either as competitors or samplers.

Attendees watched as competitors prepared food, asking questions about spices, brining and cook times, and competitors were happy to give advice.

“It’s all about the prep work,” said Chad Cunningham of Da Butcher in Alpharetta.

“You don’t even need any sauce if you treat the meat right beforehand,” he said.

One Up Que’s Chad Parker said his team competes to raise money for charity.

He and his partner, professional golfer Stewart Clink, have auctioned off their barbecue expertise to raise money for charities like the Eastlake Foundation.

“We fed over 20 people at that event,” Clink said.

As competitors prepared for the competitions, Kicks Country 101.5 played through the loud speakers. Attendees stayed entertained with bounce houses, rock climbing walls, a trackless train, bungee jump, snow cones, kettle corn and college football games in the sports viewing area.

“We’re having a great time,” Stevens said. “We’ll definitely be back again next year.”

The event is a qualifier for the Georgia BBQ Championship, and plans are already underway for next year’s event.