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Tuesday, 11 February, 2014 09:55

First Time Team at Memphis In May BBQ Fest?

We had a few First Time teams email us and ask for some tips about competing at Memphis in May…

Here’s the “Crap they don’t tell you about Competing in Memphis in May” list…

Let’s start with the planning, 

Application here

1. At this time you need only sign up for the entry fee and cleaning deposit, this includes

  • a. What category you are entered in
  • b. What size space you want
  • c. Do you want Riverside(more expensive) or a regular spot.

We choose riverside for the view…but MOSTLY for the Breeze.
2. The $350 clean up deposit. Of which $150 is returned to you upon site clean up
3. On the application it asks about wristbands, ancillaries, Big Hog, and Wednesday night tickets.

  • a. Wristbands can be purchased at the Cooks Meeting in April (see below)
  • b. Wednesday night tickets can be purchased at the Cooks Meeting in April (see below)
  • c. Big Hog can be purchased at the Cooks Meeting in April (see below)
  • d. Ancillaries can also be entered at the cooks meeting in April…but we pay them on the front end to show MIM we enter everything.
  • e. Cooker Caravan – Your team gives 1 tour a day of your booth to the public. You have a question and answer session, and send them off with a smile. It is totally free for the public and you meet some very interesting and cool people. It is a great program, please think about doing it
  • f. Kingsford Tour of Champions. You can only enter this if your team has placed top 20 at MIM before


1. Cooks meeting – first timers – go if you can…great way to network
You can add ancillaries, wed. night tickets, and 3 day wristbands up until cooks meeting in April
2. Patio Porkers get 5 – 24 hour bands
3. Regular Teams get 15-24 Hour bands
4. 3 day wristbands are only for gate hours 11AM-12AM Thurs and Fri – 11am-10pm Sat
5. Big hog package can be a waste of money for a small team…check if you really need it
6. Cattleman’s offers free sauce to teams…sign up for it, get the maximum amount…free stuff is good stuff, and if you sign up for the max, that’s like 200 dollars worth of free bbq supplies. It includes French’s Mustard, Katsup, Worstershire, 5 kinds of Franks, and 6 kinds of Cattleman’s.


Electric – NONE is provided

You will need to buy Electric hookups PRIOR to the Contest. If done before April, there is usually a good discount.



McCaffey Party Rentals rents tents and floor, Sunbeam Scaffolding…and they have a contract with Memphis in May. No other tent/scaffolding rental companies are allowed in the park.

Rent tents and floor BEFORE April and there is a discount


The Contest

1. If you have a large trailer you want in your team booth get there the Saturday before the contest starts because once the fences go up it is dang near impossible to get that hoss into a muddy rutted out spot.

2. Put up your fence as soon as you get there – If you do not, then your empty spot will be used as a parking lot, a turn around, and a way to put a trailer into the spot behind yours. THIS SUCKS. The booth gets all rutted out and very nasty with mud. So prevention is the best policy

3. BRING some kind of floor. You will thank me for this. They don’t call it Memphis in Mud for nothing. It has to sit above the ground. No wood chips, plywood directly on the ground, etc. We use pallets then hammer plywood over em…cheap and easy. I say bring b/c the rental company charges 48 bucks per 4ftx4ft square of flooring.

4. Get the Fire Marshall permit tag as soon as you can on Monday or Tuesday. You MUST go to the office, tags are not sold in the park…DO NOT FORGET…it will be absolute HELL trying to track these guys down come Wednesday.

5. Bring your own grounding wire kit for your tent, if you don’t the electricians will charge you for a kit..AND INSTALLATION…if you bring your own they will hook you in no charge

6. WATCH your team boundaries…there are some teams that will move paint and stakes to get a bigger area. I won’t name names, but it is rude and sh**ty to do. Measure your spot, then drive BIG stakes into the ground at the corners…

7. Count on electric to not be hooked up until Tuesday…it usually gets hooked up before, but there have been snafu’s in the past. Make sure you have an alternative plan for meat, tools, light, etc

8. RENT A PORT-O-JOHN (OR 2), and put it in the BACK of your booth. You can thank me later for this. If your crapper is in the front people will just walk into your booth and use it without permission…not cool. If you don’t have one you will regret it when you go to relive yourself only to find overflowing crappers from the 100,000 people that used them before you. Plus all the drunks= PUKE in the public ones…NASTY

9. Team Beer sales end early by 9pm everyday…PLAN FOR THIS. Wed is like 6pm and Sat is 7 pm…Remember to stock up or you will be SOL…

10. Wednesday is the last day to load in…7am – NOON Vehicles must leave by 3pm…those of you driving in from points unknown This is the ABSOLUTE LAST time to load big stuff in…otherwise you will be hoofing it in from ½ a mile away…that is no exaggeration…½ a mile at least carrying stuff.

11. GET A WAGON – this will save you LOTS of heartache. From kegs to meat, to the 2 kids you can haul everything you need in them. A must for MIM.

12. You will need to have Blockers and runners for your entries. The crowds are thick and you will need 2 or 3 person teams to get your stuff to the judging quickly and safely.

13. You need to bring a fire extinguisher with a CURRENT INSPECTION TAG ATTACHED. They will not give you a fire permit without one. CLASS C. McCaffey rents these as well.

14. All propane tanks must have a holder…a milk crate is perfect for this, without a holder…no permit. No tank can be bigger than 20 lbs.

15. Bring PLENTY of bottled water. The Sams Club on site runs out…

If things go wrong with your pork entry put the beautiful portions in the blind box. (remember pork entries can have NO garnish) You have to learn to B.S. and sell your onsite judge on your product. You can talk your way out of a burnt looking rib or shoulder to an onsite judge, you can’t explain anything to the blind judges….

If any visitors or first timers need tips, don’t be afraid to ask.

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