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Stars to shine at state BBQ championship

David Adlerstein
The Apalach Times
The Apalach Times

This weekend’s Butts & Clucks Cook-Off on the Bay will once again highlight pork, brisket, chicken and eggs, but this year, they’re adding GOAT.

That’s because the third annual event, and its first-time status as the Florida BBQ Association’s state championship, will include an appearance by, arguably of course, the Greatest Of All Time.

Celebrity chef Myron Mixon, nicknamed "the winningest man in barbecue,” will be making an appearance among the more than three dozen teams slated to compete for the state title at Battery Park this Thursday and Friday, Jan. 24 and 25.

A four-time barbecue world champion, in 2001, 2004, 2007 and 2016, Mixon can claim some rights to the title, after having won more than 180 BBQ grand championships and 1,700 BBQ trophies He now appears as a judge on Destination America reality television show BBQ Pitmasters.

But don’t think for a minute Mixon will be facing an assortment of mediocre grillers and second-rate chefs, all vying for a piece of more than $15,000 in cash and prizes.

The Georgia BBQ Association Team of the Year “Off the Chain” will be there, among 10 teams from the Peach state, and the Florida BBQ Team of the Year “Pig-Chicka-Cow-Cow” will be there too, highlighting several teams from the Sunshine state. Plus last year’s grand champion Backyard Bros will be back to defend their title.

For the first time, there’ll be two all-female teams, “Girly Q” and “4 Smokin’ Queens,” and don’t forget the four local teams “Pogy Road Q,” “Up the Creek,” “Smokin’ Crazy” and “Boog-a-Lou Smoke Crew.”

There will be prize money galore, as entrants at the Apalachicola Bay Chamber of Commerce affair, which has grown exponentially over the last three years, compete in four meat categories - chicken, ribs, pork butt and brisket. Each category carries a top prize of $500, with money going all the way down to 10th place.

The grand champ takes home a whopping $3,200, plus the state champion title, worth double points in the Florida BBQ Association’s circuit competition, as well as the honor of qualifying for the prestigious Jack Daniels Invitational in Lynchburg, Tennessee.

The teams arrive Thursday, and there’s a seminar for the judges and a “Shut Up And Shuck” party, but the real action gets underway Friday, all at Battery Park, with free admission to everyone.

There’s a Mystery Box Open Competition, where participants receive a sealed box to be revealed at 2 p.m. on Friday and have two hours to cook a dish out of the main ingredients of what's in the box. Local chefs will judge in front of the competitors.

Anyone, competitor or visitor, can take part in the BBQ Sauce Competition, sponsored by Sweet Smoke Q, to be judged on Friday evening. Winners get cash, and a trophy

Of course there is once again “The Cluck that Came from the Butt” contest, in which everyone can battle for the best deviled egg. The entry fee is a mere $5, and folks can sign up at Entries at due at 4 p.m. Saturday at the Community Center in Battery Park.

For those who want to sample some of the chefs’ offerings, there’s a Peoples Choice option, sponsored by Ben E Keith Foods and Compart Family Farms. This swine tasting contest is judged by all those who take part by purchasing one of only 70 VIP tickets available at the T-shirt booth on Friday and Saturday, and wrapping up from 2:15 until 3:45 p.m. at the People's Choice tent. These VIP will be able to try every competitors’ pulled pork and vote for their favorite.

The People Choice is the one way visitors can taste the various offerings by the many cooking teams, because they are busy with their own hopefully prize-winning creations. “Most of the teams do not serve barbeuce because they’re competing for the state championship,” said John Solomon, the chamber president who has spearheaded the event from its earliest humble origins a decade ago.

“There will be four BBQ vendors and two other food vendors who will be attending this year’s event for your BBQ enjoyment,” he said. Plus there will be lots of t-shirts, hats and aprons available to purchase throughout the event.

On Saturday, the band Southern Flood will be rocking the Battery Park stage from 3 to 5 p.m.

The event officially gets underway at 10 a.m. Friday, and 11 a.m. Saturday. Awards will be presented beginning at 5:30 p.m. Saturday

For more information and a full list of teams and sponsors, visit the Facebook page Butts & Clucks Cook-Off on the Bay. or call 653-9419.