Memphis in Might BBQ contest

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“We get together and it’s like a family reunion every year when we spend the week together,” said Andy Barré. “We work hard, we play hard.”

MEMPHIS, Tenn – The internationally renowned barbecue cooking competition in Memphis in May was sold out this year as capacity was reduced this year due to COVID.

Saturday was a wonderful day for barbecuing and what makes the teams come year after year is of course the cooking, but also the camaraderie.

The cooking competition this year had an excellent view of the river, whole pigs, ribs, shoulder pork and sauces galore

It has served delicious grilled dishes since the 1970s.

“When we’re done with all of this, we’re going to feed this pig to everyone who comes by,” said Mark Wheeler of the women’s chef team.

Annesdale Pork is named after the Annesdale Park neighborhood. The team consists of residents of a family of people who live in the area.

“We get together and it’s like a family reunion every year when we spend the week together,” said Andy Barré. “We work hard, we play hard.”

A look at the last day of the World Championship BBQ Cooking Contest! I will be speaking to judges and teams today 🍖 # WCBCC21 @LocalMemphis pic.twitter.com/WT4v4VQSVJ

– Rebecca Butcher @ (@ Local24Rebecca) May 15, 2021

Frank Horner, who has been judging since the 90s, says BBQ fans can get the full experience of a cooking contest with a VIP pass.

“To me, it’s the coolest experience in the park when you’re not a team member coming in from out of town,” said Horner. “It’s called the VIPit program. People see it on the food network or the travel shows or whatever about Memphis in May, they want to come, but they don’t know of any team they can’t get on.”

With the precautions taken for COVID-19, 2021 will be a smaller year than usual. Capacity is limited to 9,500 per day. Typically 20,000 would fill Tom Lee Park on a given day.

There are also fewer teams competing for the Ministry of Health’s requirements.

“It’s a creepy feeling every night,” said Jim Woolfe, head chef for the Swine and Dine team. “There aren’t that many people walking around, but we like almost normal again, which is really nice.”

For TV boxing champion Moe Cason, it’s an unforgettable experience.

“It’s like my favorite cook,” said Cason. “I’ve done a lot of cookoffs over the years. I always enjoy Memphis in May, it’s a great time down here, man. The setting on beautiful Mississippi.”