If you like to eat meat, you’re going to love what’s going on at Battery Park this weekend.
About three dozen professional cooking teams will be vying for a slice of more than $15,000 in cash and prizes, as the Apalachicola Bay Chamber of Commerce presents its Butts & Clucks Cook-Off on the Bay.
Sanctioned by the Florida BBQ Association, teams from throughout the Southeast will be whipping up their finest creations in four meat categories: Chicken, Ribs, Pork Butt and Brisket.
It all begins Friday afternoon and ends Saturday evening, with the winners capable of taking home thousands of dollars in prize money.
Chamber Director John Solomon said teams will come from as far as Venice, and Sycamore, Georgia, and all sorts of places in-between, including Fort Walton Beach, New Smyrna Beach, Fort Jessup, Longwood and Apoka, home of the returning champion Pig-Chicka Cow-Cow BBQ.
Solomon has arranged it so that visitors will have a chance for maximum gastronomical satisfaction.
Unlike the chili cook-off, each of the 36 or so booths won’t be serving samples of their entries, since they’ll be busy focusing on the competition.
Instead, each will provide a hefty sample of their pulled pork for the People's Choice swine tasting. For $20, visitors buy a ticket at the T-shirt booth and then from 2:15 until 4 p.m. on Saturday, they have access to the People's Choice tent where they can try all the competitors and vote for their favorite.
But don’t think that’s all the chowing down there’s going to be.
Beginning at 1 p.m. Friday and continuing all day Saturday. there’ll be an assortment of food vendors at the park, including 10-4 BBQ ribs and chicken, and the chamber team, led by Solomon, who won’t be competing but certainly has the local and regional awards to show he can hold his own against any of them.
“I’m cooking ribs so that’s enough reason for anybody to come out,” he said.
Beginning at 11 a.m., the competitors start turning in their meats; they have to enter all four categories for a shot at the overall $3,000 grand champion prize, the $2,000 reserve grand champion, the $1,000 for third place and the $500 for fourth.
But that’s not the only money to be had. In each of the categories, when the awards are announced beginning at 5:30 p.m., cash is given out for the top 10 places, with first place $500, second $400, third $300, fourth $200, fifth $125, sixth $100, seventh $75 and eighth, ninth and 10th each $50.
“Not only do we have all of these professional BBQ teams coming for the event, we also have over 48 judges who will be in the area to pick the winners of this year’s contests,” Solomon said.
While some come in RVs, many of the teams will be staying at motels around town, and on St. George Island. Solomon estimated each team brings in about a dozen people.
“The chamber wanted to bring this here during a typically slow time of year,” he said.
Now, if you’re wondering about where the “cluck” figures in to the “butt,” this year there again will be the Deviled Egg Contest, strictly for amateurs, a fun way to get everyone involved in the event. Cost to enter is only $5, and everyone is encouraged to sign up.
To sign up go to www.Buttsandclucks.com. Turn-in is at 4 p.m. on Saturday at the Community Center in Battery Park.
From 3:30 to 5:30 p.m., local band Southern Flood will perform on the stage in middle of Battery Park. T-shirts and aprons will be available to purchase on both days.