The KCBS competition season in the Carolinas officially kicked off on April 20th in Kings Mountain, NC with the Kings Mountain Firehouse BBQ Cook-Off. Nestled on the grounds of the walking track at the Kings Mountain Fire Museum approximately 35 minutes west of Charlotte, this event regularly draws some of the best teams in the region. This year was no exception, as 2012 reigning KCBS Team of the Year 3 Eyz BBQ made the trip down from Maryland to compete for a portion of the $10,400 prize money along with 54 additional teams, including regional juggernauts such as Two Old Men and a Grill and Checkered Pig.
I had the privilege of judging at this contest again for the third straight year. It’s one of my favorite contests for a few reasons. It holds sentimental value for me as it was the first contest I ever judged 2 years ago. It’s also practically a hometown contest for me, only being about a 45 minute drive from the Charlotte suburbs. And finally it’s the first contest in this area of the season, and with it the annual “family reunion” of judges and teams. It’s akin to coming out of hibernation for the winter.
As in judging any contest, sometimes you get great entries, and sometimes the entries are not so great. For me that day, the chicken and ribs were especially good. The pork and brisket, well… not so much. But as sworn to do, I evaluated each BBQ meat as it was presented to my eyes, my nose, and my palate.
In the end, it was a very good day for Two Old Men and a Grill. The team won 3 of the 4 categories (a 13th place in pork prevented a clean sweep) en route to repeating as Grand Champion by a 13+ point margin over Carolina BBQ Co (full results can be found on the KCBS website). Not only did Two Old Men and a Grill win the contest in dominating fashion, their overall score was 704.5718, putting them in an elite club of teams who have managed to score 700+ points in a contest. Redneck Scientific placed 6th overall, with 3 Eyz BBQ placing 7th.
The following weekend brought 71 teams to one of the cradles of ‘cue in America – Lexington, NC – for the 2013 BBQ Capital Cook-Off. In its third year of existence, the contest is quickly becoming one of the premier contests in the region. Last year, the season 3 finale of BBQ Pitmasters was filmed there. The level of competition for this contest was insane! While I was not a judge there this year, I did get to go around and chat with some of the teams. I was even able to get some pictures during the all-crucial turn-in times. A huge thank you goes out to the guys at Pork Barrel BBQ, Redneck Scientific, Smokin’ Skullies, and Rocky Top Smokies for letting me grab pictures during turn-in prep! If you’re interested in seeing all of the pictures, you can view them here.
Also appearing at this contest to promote all things grilling, BBQ, and outdoor cooking was Mike and Christine Peters of the Great American BBQ Tour. They entertained the crowd with cooking demos and tasty treats all throughout the day on Saturday.
The competition at Lexington in 2013 was extremely fierce and close. But in the end, it was back-to-back wins for Two Old Men and a Grill. Their finishes of 17th in chicken, 4th in ribs, 22nd in pork, and 2nd in brisket were enough to edge out the reigning KCBS team of the year by just under .6 points. Redneck Scientific finished 19th, Smokin’ Skillies finished 31st, and Rocky Top Smokies finished 50th.
The 2013 season ushers in two new initiatives. The first is the inclusion of North Carolina as a member of the Mid Atlantic BBQ Association (which already includes Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Virginia, and West Virginia as members). This membership means that contests held in North Carolina that fall under KCBS, MABA, and/or BBQ Brethren jurisdiction will accrue points for the MABA Team of the Year award. The second is the creation of the Old North State series. This series consists of four KCBS contests along the I-85 corridor in North Carolina – Kings Mountain, Lexington, Kannapolis, and Salisbury. The best 3 overall scores from these contests are tallied. The highest cumulative score receives a $3,500 cash prize, with the second highest receiving $1,500.