Brenau University 4th Annual Barbecue Championship Festival
I spent the weekend at the Brenau University BBQ Championship in Gainsville, Georgia. I'm a backyard griller and writer, but I enjoy hitting a couple of competitions every year. Usually I pick a local one, but when Jim Barco (who planned the event) told me that he graduated from the college where I teach and that the funds raised at this event would go toward scholarships for the students, I decided this was one I had to go check out.
Brenau University in Gainsville, Georgia
Brenau is a traditionally all girls' college but with a few males now that they have university status. My 22-year-old son had figured this out before we headed out. He's good about his research and also was a great note taker at this barbecue event.
As you can see above, Brenau is a beautiful campus. It's small and charming and looks like a safe and nice place to study.
I took some time to talk to a couple of students from Brenau - Daniella and Lindsay (from the volleyball team). They were both quite charming. The young ladies said that they were helping with the BBQ festival, because the money earned helps keep them in school. I'm sure my readers can appreciate that. College is expensive, and it's nice when we can help students out and even nicer when students are willing to spend break time pitching in to help themselves and their classmates.
Robinson's Rumps Team Getting Pork Butts Ready for the Smoker
There usually aren't a whole lot of people at barbecue competitions the night before, because that's prep time. For me, it's my favorite time though, because the teams have time to chat and joke around. And, barbecue people do tend to be fun and funny.
I wandered around with my note pad and camera and checked out the prep and also some of the "anything butt" (grilled or smoked foods that don't involve pork). Teams were doing everything from smoked oysters and chicken wings to apple fritters and bacon wrapped chicken with hot peppers. They had an informal competition just for fun for that category with the fritters taking first prize.
Pull My Pork - Winnner of "The Most Fun" Award from Barbecue Master
My favorite group was Pull My Pork. Ryan (the guy in the middle) kept their tent rolicking and made my son and I feel like family. Ryan would be like your favorite brother and likely would get you into trouble but bail you out if he could.
Pull My Pork had the food and the beverages flowing while playing cornhole and just generally having a blast in the "Backyard Braggarts" (non-professional) comp team section. I kind of doubt they got any sleep over the weekend.
Ryan hooked me up with beer when I missed the beer wagon by about 15 minutes, and he talked me into buying one of his t-shirts (for a deal). What you can't see is that on the back it says, "We Like Our Pork Pulled and Our Butts Rubbed." Now I'm thinking I better get a sharpie pen and pencil in Pork and an arrow pointing at the Butt part. See what I was talking about. Ryan could sell ice to Eskimos and could get me in trouble with Momma.
Pull My Pork didn't win any of the smoking awards, but I give them top pick for being the most fun.
Southern Smoke Barbecue - First Timers
Another of my favorite teams in the backyard group was Southern Smoke Barbecue - a couple team as you can see. They had never entered a competition before and were excited but a little nervous. They gave my son and I samples, and I must say I thought they had the best chopped pork on the lot. That was just straight up on the meat - moist and lots of flavor. I never did figure out if they had a sauce or not, and I hated to ask with them being new and maybe they didn't have sauce (or maybe they did) - still a mystery to me. In any case, they should have a prize for unsauced meat and for being the sweetest group in the field.
Bubba Grills Doctoring Up a Smoked Pig
There were professional teams at the Brenau compeition too. I watched them closely but didn't ask for any trade secrets. I could see, of course, that Bubba Grills butters up the whole hog. Yes. Those are huge chunks of butter you see. I don't even know where you buy butter chunks that big. Bubba Grills used some seasonings and a ton of bacon too. No wonder I can't drop any weight. I gained five pounds just taking the pictures.
Bubba Grills had the whole family out, or else they have a huge family (like ginormous). It looked like a family reunion back behind their work area from grandpa to an infant in a little recliner baby seat. They were right friendly, but don't step your foot back on their rug even an inch, or you will be sorry.
This group won first for pork shoulders - one of the three categories in the competition which is a Memphis BBQ Network sanctioned event.
Jack's Old South Barbecue with Myron Mixon
The overall winner at the Brenau was Jack's Old South Barbecue. You may know this group from TV where Myron Mixon is a junk talking guy who gives the other smokers grief. In person, he's really a nice guy, and his wife and daughter are delightful. I met them when I was buying a bottle of Mixon's BBQ sauce which I can't wait to try.
Skyline Contractors Took Overall in Backyard Braggarts
The overall champion for the Backyard Braggarts group was Skyline Contractors. They fed me some brisket the night before and were a real stand up group with a relaxed style. I talked to the young guy you see carving, and he told me he does roofing and lots of other home work. If he lived closer, I'd put him on speed dial. I certainly have some repair projects waiting.
Music and Other Fun at the Brenau BBQ Festival
I enjoyed music throughout the festival but especially after dark when things cooled down. It must have been close 100 degrees with our usual muggy air to go with it during the day. It was nice to kick back and relax a little and hear some good live tunes.
Family Friendly - Lots of Fun for the Kids at Brenau
The Brenau BBQ Festival is a yearly event, and it's definately a good time for all ages. They had plenty of cool stuff for the kids to do including face painting. And, as you can see, these two little ones were having a blast making bubbles.
Barbecue Master Had a Great Time at the Brenau BBQ Festival and Competition
The weekend flew by. I had the chance to meet some wonderful barbecue people and left hot, tired, full, and happy. And, I picked up some cowboy boots and peaches on the way home. Hard to beat all that.
Thanks to Jim Barco for inviting me down to Brenau University and to eveyone for making it a special trip that I enjoyed with my son who just graduated from college last week. It's great to see a small community and college come together and do something nice that will benefit students.