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This past weekend, about a dozen teams from all over the country pitted their pit-smoked pork against each other at the city’s 8th Annual Smoke on the Mountain, a contest of flavor, showmanship and technique.
Teams are evaluated by professional judges both on-site and in blind competition, with points in categories like appearance, tenderness and flavor determining the winners.
The top three teams in each of the three main categories go to the finals, and a grand champion is chosen from among those finalists.
This year’s top hog was Georgia-based team Bubba Grills, which also placed first in whole hog, ribs, “anything butt” and sauce; and placed fifth in pork shoulder.
This team has already won a grand championship at another contest, so second-place team Ranucci’s Big Butt BBQ of Belmont, N.C., will represent Galax and the state of Virginia at the 2013 Memphis In May world championship barbecue cook-off in Tennessee.
The competition and festivities in downtown Galax are a joint venture of the Twin County Regional Chamber of Commerce, the City of Galax, The Galax Smokehouse restaurant and the Memphis Barbecue Network. This year’s event was held July 20-21.
This year’s contest attracted several high-profile teams, including Jack’s Old South, whose leader, Myron Mixon, is a “celebrity chef” featured on talk shows and reality shows like “BBQ Pitmasters” on The Food Network and The Travel Channel.
Local cooking crews made a decent showing, with Galax teams Mountain Grillas and Nervous Wreck placing fifth and fourth, respectively, in ribs. Both of these teams worked their way up the professional ranks after winning the “Patio Porker” amateur division.
Newcomers to the barbecue scene this year, the Beef Shack team from Galax placed second in the “Anything Butt” contest, which is for any meat other than pork. The Beef Shack restaurant on South Main Street in Galax specializes in pit-cooked beef and ham.
Each night after the contests, fans jammed to beach music and classic rock by Hip Pocket, The Catalinas and The Tams. During the day, bluegrass and old-time bands played at Barr’s Fiddle Shop, which also supplies the contest’s unique instrument trophies. One of the banjo trophies won by Barnyard Roasters in the past is now in a barbecue museum in Memphis, Tenn., according to one of the team members.
Dozens of judges come to Galax from all over the country, and this year the Memphis Barbecue Network held a judging school in the city, which drew about 20 students. After certification, these judges can attend Smoke on the Mountain or any other MBN-sanctioned event and judge the entries.
Winners of the 8th Annual Smoke on the Mountain BBQ Cook-off:
Grand Champion and 2012 Reining Virginia State BBQ Champion:
Bubba Grills of Haddock, Ga.
(Because Bubba Grills has already earned a spot in the world champsionship by winning another contest, second-place team Ranucci’s Big Butt BBQ of Belmont, N.C., will represent Galax and the state of Virginia at the 2013 Memphis In May event in Tennessee.)
5th ― Kings Cooking Team of Shelby, N.C.
4th ― Barnyard Roasters of Columbus, Miss.
3rd ― Boars Night Out of South Haven, Miss.
2nd ― Ranucci’s Big Butt BBQ of Belmont, N.C.
1st ― Bubba Grills of Haddock, Ga.
5th ― Bubba Grills
4th ― Muck’s BBQ of Tega Cay, S.C.
3rd ― Boars Night Out
2nd ― Jack’s Old South of Vienna, Ga.
1st ― Ranucci’s Big Butt BBQ
5th ― Mountain Grillas of Galax
4th ― Nervous Wreck Cooking Crew of Galax
3rd ― Ranucci’s Big Butt BBQ
2nd ― Boars Night Out
1st ― Bubba Grills
Patio Porker (Amateur Division)
3rd ― Kwik Chef BBQ of Warrenton
2nd ― James River BBQ of Lynchburg
1st ― Smoked Chip of Charlottesville
2nd ― Sweet N Sassy BBQ Co. of Spotsylvania
1st ― Bubba Grills
Anything Butt (any meat other than pork)
2nd ― Beef Shack BBQ of Galax
1st ― Bubba Grills
Official results from Memphis Barbecue Network