TUESDAY, DECEMBER 06, 2022

Announcements

Memphis BBQ 2022..

 
You arrive in Memphis, Tennessee on Thursday morning May 12th. In the airport you see a few quick service BBQ restaurants; Neely’s, Corky’s, and Interstate. Even though you are quite famished after your 6am flight, you of course pass these stale airport outlets in favor of the fresh smoked love that Memphis has to offer. Hailing a cab, you tell your driver to high-tail it to the fairgrounds. Stepping out of the cab, your sinuses are assaulted by the smell of roast pork, spices, and sweet smoke. You can’t help but notice the hazy blue fog drifting and dancing about, as a thousand or so people are drawn forward, all calmly walking to the gates of what many consider to be the Superbowl of Swine.
 
It is an amazing sight to behold. As you walk through the huge gates of the contest, the sweet smell of hickory hangs thick in the air. Over 270 BBQ Team booths (many 2 levels tall) line the huge park. Over 120,000 people flock to this mecca of BBQ every year to eat, drink, and worship at the altar of swine. This is the Memphis in May International Festival World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest. Held every year on the third weekend in May, Wednesday thru Saturday, it is certified by Guinness as the “Worlds Largest Pork BBQ Contest”. Believe it or not, over the course of three days, over 84 tons of pork are cooked and consumed.
 
My name is Neil Gallagher, and before we started our own team, Too Sauced To Pork, I cooked on a few different teams in the contest. I was a guest of barbecue teams for many years before that. I have been a part of this amazing contest in one form or another for 30 of my 43 years of life. But alas, for the Average Joe there is a huge drawback to the festival, teams are not allowed to sell or give out samples to the general public. Due to Memphis Health Department regulations the teams can only give food and beverages to “invited guests”. “Invited Guests” are defined in MIM rules as anyone inside the fence of your team booth. The best way to experience the contest is on a team, or at least in a team booth, otherwise you will be on the outside looking in. You can join a team, there are many that offer people just like you a chance to experience this swinetastic soiree. Google Join a Memphis in May BBQ Team and you will see 4 or 5 teams that accept new members. You can also buy program tickets (VIP Tour, Kingsford Tour of Champions and BBQ Alley) as well as attend the free Cookers Caravan tours.
 
The days are full of contests, 16 different categories over 4 days. The nights are full of raging parties, many of which have huge buffet dinners, DJ’s, light shows, dance floors and multiple bars on multiple stories of a BBQ booth. When I say booth, I know you picture a ten foot by ten foot EZup with a table and some smokers. NOPE! These monstrosities (see The Usual Saucepects Competition BBQ for details) are larger than most people’s houses. Many are 35ft wide by 50ft deep. That is 1750 square feet, before you start adding levels to them… That’s right MULTIPLE LEVEL booths. Some of these scaffolding-boned portable structures are 3 stories tall, that’s 3500 square feet of Pure Porkin’ Party.
 
Wednesday used to be Friends and Family night, a ticketed event not open to the general public. It has since been opened to the public, but many teams still honor the friends and family tradition and keep their booths closed off and family friendly. This is the night of Sauce Wrestling…an event put on by Memphis in May. It’s a bit ridiculous, but is a throwback to Memphis wrestling history and traditions.
 
Thursday is the Best Booth, Best T-shirt, Best Sauce, Wings, Turkey and the Ms. Piggie Idol contest. First five are self-explanatory, the fifth is well….more complicated. Performers wear elaborate costumes, many featuring full-figured men in Pig Drag, singing porked up versions of popular songs. An absolute MUST SEE! Winners have included “Rib in a Box”, “Grills, Grills, Grills”, “Sweet Swine O’ Mine”, and the “Swine Warp”. The best time to connect with teams is on this day. Go around and ask about their cookers, no team can resist showing off. Awards are in the early evening and then a band is called in to finish out the night. There will be some great times and awesome Que for all.
 
Friday is chocked full of competition cooking with the ancillary division contests. Categories include meat categories which include Beef, Poultry, Exotic, and Seafood. A band plays before the awards, and then another after. Many cooking teams throw down the party on Thursday but are very much reserved on Friday night in anticipation for Saturdays turn-ins. Of course that is just the cooking crew (about 5 people), the REST of the team, which on some teams include up to 200 members, live high on the hog and party till the cops shut them down for quiet time at midnight.
 
Saturday is held in the reverence of a Sunday morning Baptist church. There are no loud stereos, no parties, and no sign of the Carnival like atmosphere of the previous days. This is the Church of Cochon. Today we celebrate and piously reflect upon the main pork categories of Ribs, Shoulder, and Whole Hog. Every team has a blind box to turn in, and three onsite judges to schmooze. Booths are dolled up prettier than a 5th Avenue fine dining restaurant. Silver platters hold racks of ribs, exotic lettuces and fruits ornately decorate grilles and smokers, and you could even spot a team or two wearing tuxes, and greeting judges with a maitre d’. After all is said and done the long wait begins…only 3 teams from each category make the finals. We all wait for a smiling guy in a golf cart to attach a sign to your fence, signaling you are a finalist. When this happens, and HUGE cheer erupts, then you go into panic mode. That sign means 4 judges are coming to your booth to judge your pork. Fast forward to 6:30pm, everyone gathers at the main stage for the awards. The MC comes on and announces 10th through 1st place. If you didn’t final you pray for 4th-10th a HUGE honor in a field of 270.
 
I LOVE this contest; it is one of the highlights of my year. Why you ask? Excitement, pure and simple. Where else in the world can you find a BBQ contest with the Heart of Midtown Memphis as a backdrop. Where else in the World can you meet BBQ enthusiasts from across the globe, like the Norwegian National BBQ Team or the Black Pig from Canada. Where else can you rub hoofs with some of the best in BBQ, people like Myron Mixon, Tuffy Stone, Moe Cason, Brad Orrison, Brooke Orrison, Melissa Cookston and Chris Lilly – just to name a few. When that warm orange sun sinks below the tree lined splendor of Tiger Lane, casting its amber hues over 100,000 swine worshipers, we competitors reflect upon its beauty with true reverence. Dreams are realized and shattered here, blood and tears are spilt, deep friendships are cemented, and lifelong dreams are granted…there is NO place on earth like Memphis in May.
 
Do yourself a favor, plan a trip to attend.
 
Want a step by step, day by day guide to the Memphis in May International Festival World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest?
 

Announcements

2022 UNOFFICIAL MEMPHIS IN MAY BBQ GUIDEBOOK

The contest has moved from the River to Tiger Lane this year…so a updated guide had to be written. Enjoy!

So after watching one of the many shows on the TV highlighting BBQ Fest, you have decided to attend the Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest. You have arranged to stay at a friend’s house or have rented a hotel room, you have read our Memphis in May Rules page (click to view) and decided you didn’t want to join one of the many teams.  Luckily you found and read our Guide to Memphis in May for people not on a BBQ Team (click to view), now what?

Long picture2

Now you plan what to do. Right now log onto your phone and download the Memphis in May app. This has an interactive map with click and find team names and booths…you will need this.

For those of you that have decided not to purchase a VIP PITPASS, this article should help you navigate how to attend BBQ FEST, and how to have fun on the cheap. The VIP pass that Memphis in May offers is a scheduled itinerary of meet and greets, instructional sessions, and parties. It costs $495 per person (. While this is not out of reach, it is a bit pricey for the BBQ Fanatic whose pockets are a bit shallow, or for the non-fanatic that wants to attend one day of this magical event. We are not saying that the VIP is not worth the money…because it totally is. Being able to hang out with multiple top teams and eat and drink with World Champion pitmasters is worth it’s weight in gold, just not everyone can afford it.

In our previous articles we have discussed Memphis in May’s (MIM) programs. They are the Cooker’s Caravan, BBQ Alley and the Kingsford Tour of Champions. Now with a bit of forethought and $119 we can show you how to have 3 full days of fun at MIM BBQ Fest.

First…click here to purchase your Kingsford Tour of Champions Tickets. They are $15 per session and are available Thursday and Friday. There are 3 sessions each day – 2pm-3:30pm, 3pm-4:30pm and 4pm-5:30pm.  I would purchase the Thursday 4pm-5:30pm session and the Friday 4pm-5:30pm session.

This program evolved from the People’s Choice contest that was a mainstay for a decade. In 2012 MIM decided to let teams be judged by the public in the team’s booth. This costs $15 and gives you access to 3 teams booths. You go to the booths and taste the teams BBQ…AND JUDGE IT. Many teams will offer you a libation while you are judging and will sweet talk you into voting for them. These sessions are 1.5 hours each and can be bought through MIM website before the contest. THESE SELL OUT EVERY YEAR…DO NOT WAIT

This program makes you an official judge. The Kingsford Tour of Champions provides an opportunity for barbecue enthusiasts to judge entries from contenders in the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest. You will be participating in on-site judging for barbecued pork shoulder. A pork shoulder entry is defined by Memphis in May as the portion of the hog containing the arm bone, shank bone and a portion of the blade bone. The pork ham, considered to be a shoulder entry, contains the hind leg bone.  You will be given detailed judging information and scoring criteria in your judges packet and during the judging orientation.  If you have any questions about this program, please e-mail [email protected].

so that’s $30 spent.

The next program is the BBQ Alley. This evolved from folks wanting a centralized tasting area made up of Famous Memphis BBQ Restaurants. This is the all in one tasting experience at the contest.  Limited quantities of $20 tickets are sold online and then the contest holds some back to sell in person. 250 total tickets are sold for each time slot. This is the only public program with time slots on Saturday.

Now it’s time to discuss the Cooker’s Caravan.  Before 2003 there were no programs for the general public, then came the Cooker Caravan. This program is a guided tour of team booths. It is absolutely FREE. All you have to do is show up at the Cooker’s Caravan Kiosk and sign up. There are two of these in the Park, one near the first set of Rib tents, and one in the Shoulders section. You visit 3 team’s booths, get a guided tour, have a question and answer period…and possibly get food and an invite back.  IF A TEAM INVITES YOU BACK WRITE DOWN THEIR 1. booth number, 2. name of person giving you the booth tour, 3. detailed description of where the booth is located in the park using landmarks able to be seen in the dark. These are imperative as when “Party Time” starts up you will need names of team members to get in the booth, but first you will have to find their booth after the sun goes down, hence #2 and 3.

Now for your itinerary…

Admission starts at 500pm on Wednesday May 11 – 

TEAM SCHEDULE

  • WEDNESDAY, MAY 11
    • Team Load-in: 7:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.  
    • Team Check-in/Registration: 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
    • Electrical Check-in: 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
    • Code Enforcement on Site: 10:00 a.m.
    • Team Beer Sales: 10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
    • Team Ice Sales: 10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
    • Vehicles Cleared from Park By: 3:30 p.m.
    • Admission Ticket Sales: 3:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
    • Park Open to Public: 5:00 p.m.
    • Park Closes: 10:00 p.m.
  • MEETING TIMES:
    • Patio Cooks’ Meeting: 12:00 p.m. – 12:30 p.m.
    • Shoulder Cooks’ Meeting: 12:30 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.
    • Hog Cooks’ Meeting: 1:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
    • Ribs Cooks’ Meeting: 1:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
    SPECIAL EVENT TIMES:
    • Best T-Shirt Turn-in: 12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
    (Bring to Cook’s Meeting)

GENERAL PUBLIC SCHEDULE

  • Admission Ticket Sales: 3:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
  • Gates Open: 5:00 p.m.
  • Gates Close: 10:00 p.m
  • Featured Entertainment:
    • Sauce Wrestling 6:30pm
    • Little Ozzy 8:00pm

BIG ISSUE MANY DON’T REALIZE. Teams are just finishing setup.

This was traditionally a friends and family only night up until a few years ago. Many teams still keep this as a night to have small children and family members in the booth for food and fellowship. This means many teams are not focused on showing off/bragging/ crowds than they will be Thursday and Friday. 

NOW TO THE MEAT AND POTATOES!!!

Admission Gates are free on Thursday and Friday from 11am-1pm. 

memphisinmay walk in

Thursday May 12th – PARTY DAY

TEAM SCHEDULE

THURSDAY, MAY 12
• Food Load-in: 7:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.
• Ice Sales: 9:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
• Vehicles Cleared from Park By: 9:30 a.m.
• Team Beer Sales: 10:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
• Admission Ticket Sales: 11:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.
• Free Admission Gate: 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
• Park Open to Public: 11:00 a.m.
• Park Closes: 12:00 a.m.
ANCILLARY TURN-IN TIMES
• Tomato Sauce: 12:00 p.m. – 12:15 p.m.
• Mustard Sauce: 12:45 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.
• Vinegar Sauce: 1:30 p.m. – 1:45 p.m.
• Hot Wings: 2:15 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
• Turkey Smoke: 3:15 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.

SPECIAL EVENT TIMES:
• Home Depot Best Booth Judging: 11:00 a.m.
• Kingsford Tour of Champions:

  • 2pm-330pm
  • 3pm-430pm
  • 4pm-530pm

BBQ Alley by Big Green Egg & Friends:

  • 2pm
  • 4pm

Cooker Caravan:

  • 11am
  • 11:30am
  • 12pm
  • 12:30pm
  • 1pm
  • 1:30pm
  • 2pm
  • 2:30pm
  • 3pm
  • 3:30pm

• T-Shirt Contest Judging: 3:00 p.m.
• Ms. Piggie Idol Contest: 6:00 p.m.
(Contestants on stage by 5:30)
• Awards Ceremony: 7:00 p.m.
(Ms. Piggie Idol, T-shirt, Booth)
• Featured Entertainment
• ALMOST ELTON JOHN
• ROD STEWART TRIBUTE BAND FT. ROB CAUDILL

Thursday is the Tomato, Vinegar and Mustard sauce cooking contests, as well as Turkey and Wings. The non-food categories of Best Booth, Best T-shirt, and the Ms. Piggie Idol contest are also this day. First two are self-explanatory, the third is well….more complicated.  Performers wear elaborate costumes, many featuring full-figured men in Pig Drag, singing porked up versions of popular songs.  An absolute MUST SEE!  Winners have included “Rib in a Box”, “Grills, Grills, Grills”, “Sweet Swine O’ Mine”, and the “Swine Warp.” The best time to connect with teams is on this day.  Go around and ask about their cookers, no team can resist showing off.  Awards are in the early evening and then a band is called in to finish out the night

1. 11:10am arrive at the gates, enter the park, and find the “Cooker Caravan” Kiosk. Sign up for the 12:30pm and 3:00pm Caravans.
2. 11:45-12:15 make a loop around “Rib Row” by walking back towards the main stage to the north and making your last right and walking back towards the South along the rib team booths. Grab a beer ($4) from a vendor and Meet back at Cooker Caravan kiosk at 12:20
3. 12:30-1:20 Tour team booths, make friends, take notes of teams that invite you back.
4. 1:30-2:20 walk around the “Big Money” section in the center of Tiger Lane, then the Shoulder and Whole Hog sections. Grab something from a vendor ($12)
5. 2:50 meet back at Cooker Caravan kiosk.
6 3:00-3:50 Tour team booths, make friends, take notes of teams that invite you back.
7. 4:00-5:30 Tour Kingsford Tour of Champions teams. Pig out on Pork, judge it, have fun, make friends.
8. 6:00 Watch Ms. Piggie Idol competition. Utter hilarity. Stay for awards or the band.
9. 8:00 Go back to the teams you made friends with and party until the Cops shut down the park at Midnight. While you can’t pay to get into a team booth, it is customary to throw some cash in the bartenders tip jar for the drinks and hospitality.

Notice today we only spent about twenty bucks so far…why? Well you have hopefully had a few samples given to you by teams during the two caravans, you ate lunch from a vendor, you bought a beer and had water to stay hydrated, and, to get your vote, the 3 different 4pm-5:30pm Tour of Champions teams wined and dined you with pulled pork and a few libations. You have thus far spent $43 total. If you were invited back to a booth for a party, you should toss at least $10 into their tip jar, you have now spent $53…and are now indebted to your new friends, don’t forget you are a guest, try to remember team members names, and go back tomorrow to say hi. If you feel your welcome has worn out, move on, try again later tonight after they have had a couple liters of beer.

2022 Neighborhood Map for WCBCC

Friday May 13th – ANCILLARY DAY

TEAM SCHEDULE

Meat Load-in: 7:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.
• Meat inspection: 8:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
• Ice Sales: 9:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
• Vehicles Cleared from Park By: 9:30 a.m.
• Team Beer Sales: 10:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
• Admission Ticket Sales: 11:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.
• Free Admission Gate: 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
• Park Open to Public: 11:00 a.m.
• Awards Ceremony: 6:00 p.m.
• Park Closes: 12:00 a.m.

ANCILLARY TURN-IN TIMES
• Beef Turn-in: 12:45 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.
• Poultry Turn-in: 1:30 p.m. – 1:45 p.m.
• Seafood Turn-in: 2:15 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
• Exotic Turn-in: 3:00 p.m. – 3:15 p.m.
• Awards Ceremony: 6:00 p.m.
(Anything But, Hot Wings, Sauce)

SPECIAL EVENT TIMES:

Kingsford Tour of Champions:

  • 2pm-330pm
  • 3pm-430pm
  • 4pm-530pm

BBQ Alley by Big Green Egg & Friends:

  • 2pm
  • 4pm

Cooker Caravan:

  • 11am
  • 11:30am
  • 12pm
  • 12:30pm
  • 1pm
  • 1:30pm
  • 2pm
  • 2:30pm
  • 3pm
  • 3:30pm

• Featured Entertainment
• THE SPIN DOCTORS

Friday is chocked full of competition cooking with the ancillary division contests, categories include Beef, Poultry, Exotic, and Seafood. A band plays before the awards, and then another after.  Many cooking teams throw down the party on Thursday but are very much reserved on Friday night in anticipation for Saturday’s turn-ins.  Of course that is just the cooking  crew (about 5 people), the REST of the team, which on some teams include up to 200 members, live high on the hog and party till the cops shut them down for quiet time at midnight.

1. 11:10am arrive at the gates, enter the park, and find the “Cooker Caravan” Kiosk. Sign up for the 12:30pm and 3:00pm Caravans…unless of course you made BBQ Friends yesterday…then head over to that team and say hey.
2. 11:45-12:15 make a loop around “Patio Porkers” by walking back towards the main stage to the north and making your last left and walking back towards the South along th vendors. Grab a beer ($4) from a vendor and Meet back at Cooker Caravan kiosk at 12:20
3. 12:30-1:20 Tour team booths, make friends, take notes of teams that invite you back.
4. 1:30-2:20 walk around the “Big Money” section in the center of Tiger Lane, then the Shoulder and Whole Hog sections. Grab something from a vendor ($12)
5. 2:50 meet back at Cooker Caravan kiosk.
6 3:00-3:50 Tour team booths, make friends, take notes of teams that invite you back.
7. 4:00-5:30 Tour Kingsford Tour of Champions teams. Pig out on Pork, judge it, have fun, make friends.
8. 6:30 Watch the daily awards ceremony
9. 8:00 Go back to the teams you made friends with and party until the Cops shut down the park at Midnight. While you can’t pay to get into a team booth, it is customary to throw some cash in the bartenders tip jar for the drinks and hospitality.

Notice again today we only spent about $20…why? Well you have hopefully had a few more samples given to you by teams during the two caravans, you ate lunch from a vendor, you bought a beer and had water to stay hydrated, and, to get your vote, the 3 different from last night 4pm-5:30pm Tour of Champions teams wined and dined you with pulled pork and a few libations. You have thus far spent $62 total. If you were invited back to a booth for a party, you should toss at least $10 into their tip jar, Lucky you were invited back to 2 teams tents thus you dropped $20. You have now spent $82…

Saturday May 18th – COMPETITION DAY

TEAM SCHEDULE

• Ice Sales: 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
• Team Beer Sales: 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
• Admission Ticket Sales: 10:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
• Park Open to Public: 10:00 a.m.
• Park Closes: 10:00 p.m.
• No Saturday load-out
BLIND TURN-IN TIMES:
• Rib: 10:45 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
• Shoulder: 12:00 p.m. – 12:15 p.m.
• Patio Porker: 12:00 p.m. – 12:15 p.m.
• Whole Hog: 1:15 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
ON-SITE JUDGING TIMES:
• Rib: 11:00 a.m.
• Shoulder: 12:15 p.m.
• Whole Hog: 1:30 p.m.
• Championship Awards Ceremony: 6:30 p.m.

SPECIAL EVENT TIMES:

BBQ Alley by Big Green Egg & Friends:

  • 11am
  • 1pm
  • 3pm

• Featured Entertainment
• TONE LOC

Saturday is held in the reverence of a Sunday morning Baptist church.  There are no loud stereos, no parties, and no sign of the Carnival like atmosphere of the previous days.  This is the Church of Cochon. Today we celebrate and piously reflect upon the main pork categories of Ribs, Shoulder, and Whole Hog.  Every team has a blind box to turn in, and three onsite judges to schmooze.  Booths are dolled up prettier than a 5th Avenue fine dining restaurant.  Silver platters hold racks of ribs, exotic lettuces and fruits ornately decorate grilles and smokers, and you could even spot a team or two wearing tuxes, and greeting judges with a maitre d’.   After all is said and done the long wait begins…only 3 teams from each category make the finals.  We all wait for a smiling guy in a golf cart to attach a sign to your fence, signaling you are a finalist.  When this happens, a HUGE cheer erupts, then you go into panic mode.  That sign means 4 judges are coming to your booth to judge your pork.  Fast forward to 6:30pm, everyone gathers at the main stage for the awards. The MC comes on and announces 10th through 1st place.  If you didn’t final you pray for 4th-10th a HUGE honor in a field of 250.

1. 10:00am arrive at the gates, buy your ticket for $13 (NOT FREE ON SATURDAY) enter the park, and proceed to the Rib area, they are the first to be judged. Situate yourself where you can duck between 3 team presentations…careful not to make a noise. Observe and be amazed.
2. 11:50 proceed to the “Shoulder” area, they are the second to be judged. Situate yourself where you can duck between 3 team presentations…careful not to make a noise. Again observe and be amazed.
3. 1:15pm proceed to the “Rib” area, they are the third to be judged. Situate yourself where you can duck between 3 team presentations…careful not to make a noise. Again observe and be amazed.
4. 2-6:15 walk around the sections checking in and chatting to the teams that you visited the day before, if you have done as we said and made friends, they will invite you in for lunch.
5. 3:00pm – Try and get tickets for the BBQ Alley at this time. $20 per person. No Party on Saturday, best time to stuff your face.
6. 6:30 Watch the daily awards ceremony
7. 8:00 Go back to the teams you made friends with and party until the Cops shut down the park at 10PM.

You have partied at Memphis in May for just over $100…If at all possible throw a little more in those team tip jars, they spend thousands of dollars putting this amazing contest on, put it this way – two beers on Beale is $15 with a tip, do the right thing.

Announcements

2022 MEMPHIS IN MAY BBQ!!!

There are just 23 days until the Superbowl of Swine!!!

MAY 11-14 2022

Memphis booths

 

If you are interested in joining the Too Sauced To Pork Barbecue Family click here to receive information on being a part of the team

If you are a spectator planning to attend the festival in 2022 and don’t want to join a team, click here for our Tips for Visitors Not on a BBQ Team

Want history of the contest and some overall guidance for the festival…Click here for our Unofficial Guide To Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest

If you are attending MIM and need a Sample Itinerary on how to do the festival right…here it is

Are you planning to bring the little ones to Memphis in May…Click here for our BBQ Fest for Families

TSTP BOOTHTSTP Team Booth

If you are a Barbecue Team looking for a breakdown of what it takes gear and money wise to do this amazing contest click here for our Step by Step Guide to BBQ Fest for Teams

If you are planning on attending Memphis in May an want a great description of what it is like, go to this link from Extraordinary BBQ about the contest.

CLICK HERE FOR MEMPHIS IN MAY’S OFFICIAL SITE

Announcements

MIM BBQ 2019

There are just 32 days until the Superbowl of Swine!!!

MAY 15-18 2019

Memphis booths

 

If you are interested in joining the Too Sauced To Pork Barbecue Family click here to receive information on being a part of the team

If you are a spectator planning to attend the festival in 2019 and don’t want to join a team, click here for our Tips for Visitors Not on a BBQ Team

Want history of the contest and some overall guidance for the festival…Click here for our Unofficial Guide To Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest

If you are attending MIM and need a Sample Itinerary on how to do the festival right…here it is

Are you planning to bring the little ones to Memphis in May…Click here for our BBQ Fest for Families

TSTP BOOTHOur 2015 Team Booth

If you are a Barbecue Team looking for a breakdown of what it takes gear and money wise to do this amazing contest click here for our Step by Step Guide to BBQ Fest for Teams

If you are planning on attending Memphis in May an want a great description of what it is like, go to this link from Extraordinary BBQ about the contest.

CLICK HERE FOR MEMPHIS IN MAY’S OFFICIAL SITE

Announcements

MEMPHIS IN MAY WCBCC / BBQ FEST 2018

There are just 15 days until the Superbowl of Swine!!!

MAY 16-19 2018

Memphis booths

If you are a spectator planning to attend the festival in 2018 and don’t want to join a team, click here for our Tips for Visitors Not on a BBQ Team

Want history of the contest and some overall guidance for the festival…Click here for our Unofficial Guide To Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest

If you are attending MIM and need a Sample Itinerary on how to do the festival right…here it is

Are you planning to bring the little ones to Memphis in May…Click here for our BBQ Fest for Families

TSTP BOOTHOur 2015 Team Booth

If you are a Barbecue Team looking for a breakdown of what it takes gear and money wise to do this amazing contest click here for our Step by Step Guide to BBQ Fest for Teams

If you are planning on attending Memphis in May an want a great description of what it is like, go to this link from Extraordinary BBQ about the contest.

CLICK HERE FOR MEMPHIS IN MAY’S OFFICIAL SITE

 

Announcements

Attending MIM

Picture this: You arrive in Memphis, Tennessee on a Thursday morning in May. In the airport you see a few quick service BBQ restaurants; Sun Cafe and Interstate. Even though you are quite famished after your 6 a.m. flight, you of course pass these stale airport outlets in favor of the fresh smoked love that Memphis has to offer.

Hailing a cab, you tell your driver to high-tail it downtown. Stepping out of the cab at your hotel, your sinuses are assaulted by the smell of roast pork, spices, and sweet smoke. You walk through the revolving door and into the Grand Lobby of the Peabody Hotel, taking notice of the ducks splashing around in the center fountain, and the tux clad jazz pianist in the bar.

Peabody1
Checking in at your hotel, you can’t help but notice the hazy blue fog drifting and dancing about the alleys and byways of downtown. You drop your luggage and proceed to relive your own version of “Walking in Memphis”, pretending those Nike’s are blue suede, you are walking with your feet 10 feet off of Beale. You grab a “Big Ass Beer” from a vendor on Beale Street, watch the Beale Street Flippers do 27 continuous backward handsprings down the middle of the road; then follow the crowds, and your nose, towards the Mississippi River. Walking down the long brick-clad street, Ole Man River comes into view and so does the crowd. There are about a thousand or so people here, all calmly walking to the gates of what many consider to be the Super Bowl of Swine.

As you walk through the huge gates of the contest, the sweet smell of hickory hangs thick in the air. Over 250 BBQ team booths (some 3 levels tall) line the over one mile long park. Over 100,000 people flock to this Mecca of BBQ every year to eat, drink, and worship at the altar of swine. This is the Memphis in May World Championship BBQ Cooking Contest. Held every year on the third weekend in May, Thursday through Saturday, it is certified by Guinness as the “World’s Largest Pork BBQ Contest.” In three days, over 84 tons of pork are cooked and consumed.

 

 

Before founding our Barbecue family, Too Sauced To Pork, many of us cooked on different teams in the contest. We were guests of barbecue teams for many years before that. Some of us on Too Sauced To Pork have been a part of this amazing contest in one form or another for over 25 years

 

US

There is one huge drawback to the festival: you can’t buy the competing team’s barbecue. Due to Memphis Health Department regulations, teams are not allowed to sell or give out samples to the general public…BUT…BBQ teams can give food and beverages to “invited guests.” An “invited guest” is defined in the rules as anyone inside the fence of your team booth. There are bbq vendors and a few of them are teams, but the best way to experience this contest is on a team, or at least in a team booth, otherwise you will be on the outside looking in. You can join a team; there are many that offer everyday people a chance to experience this swinetastic soiree. You can also buy a VIP Pit pass, participate in the Kingsford Tour of Champions and judge the teams BBQ, or tour team booths in the Cooker Caravan. But the easiest thing you can do is simply talk to teams, ask us about our smokers, our meat or our process…most of us will invite you in and give you a little tour.

The days are full of contests, 16 different categories over 3 days. The nights are full of raging parties, many of which have huge buffet dinners, DJ’s, light shows, dance floors and multiple bars on multiple stories of a BBQ booth. When I say booth, I know you picture a ten foot by ten foot EZ-up with a table and some smokers. Nope. These monstrosities are larger than most people’s houses. Many are 26 feet wide by 50 feet deep, 1,300 square feet, before you start adding levels to them. Some of these scaffolding-boned portable structures are three stories tall, 3,900 square feet of pure pork party.

Booth42

Thursday is the Best Booth, Best T-shirt, and the Ms. Piggie Idol contest. First two are self-explanatory, the third is, well, more complicated. Performers wear elaborate costumes, many featuring full-figured men in pig drag, singing porked-up versions of popular songs. Winners have included “Rib in a Box,” “Grills, Grills, Grills,” “Sweet Swine O’ Mine,” and the “Swine Warp.” The best time to connect with teams is on this day. Go around and ask about their cookers. No team can resist showing off. Awards are in the early evening and then a band is called in to finish out the night.

Piggie Idol3Friday is chock full of competition cooking with the ancillary division contests. Categories include Tomato, Mustard and Vinegar Sauces; meat categories which include Beef, Poultry, Exotic, and Seafood, as well as the Hot Wings contest. A band plays before the awards, and then another after.

Many cooking teams throw down the party on Thursday but are very much reserved on Friday night in anticipation for Saturday’s turn-ins. Of course that is just the cooking crew, about five people. The rest of the team, up to 200 members for some teams, live high on the hog and party till the cops shut them down for quiet time at midnight.

 

 

party time

Saturday dawns with the reverence of a Sunday morning Baptist church. There are no loud stereos, no parties, and no sign of the Carnival-like atmosphere of the previous days. This is the Church of Cochon.

Today we celebrate and piously reflect upon the main pork categories of Ribs, Shoulder, and Whole Hog. Every team has a blind box to turn in, and three onsite judges to schmooze. Booths are dolled up prettier than a 5th Avenue fine dining restaurant. Silver platters hold racks of ribs, exotic lettuces and fruits ornately decorate grilles and smokers, and you could even spot a team or two wearing tuxes, and greeting judges with a maitre d’.

 

After all is said and done the long wait begins. Only three teams from each category make the finals. We all wait for a smiling guy in a golf cart to attach a sign to your fence, signaling you are a finalist. When this happens, a hueg cheer erupts, then you go into panic mode. That sign means four judges are coming to your booth to judge your pork.
Fast forward to 6:30 p.m. Everyone gathers at the main stage for the awards. The MC comes on and announces 10th through 1st place. If you didn’t final, you pray for 4th-10th, each prize a huge honor in a field of 250.

hog

 

I love this contest, one of the highlights of my year, because of the excitement, pure and simple. Where else can you find a BBQ contest two football fields wide and a full mile long with the majestic Mississippi as a backdrop? Where else can you meet BBQ enthusiasts from across the globe, like the Danish national BBQ team, Norwegian national BBQ team, or the Black Pig team from Canada? Where else can you rub hoofs with some of the best in BBQ, people like Myron Mixon, Melissa Cookston, Johnny Trigg, Tuffy Stone, Moe Cason, the Orrisons, and Chris Lilly, just to name a few.

Every year, as that warm orange sun sinks into the Big Muddy, casting its amber hues over 100,000 swine worshippers, competitors reflect upon its beauty with true reverence. Dreams are realized and shattered here, blood and tears are spilt, deep friendships are cemented, and lifelong dreams are granted. There is no place on earth like Memphis in May.

Announcements

BBQ Fest for Families

The Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest…BBQ FEST…The Superbowl of Swine…

Many people say this festival is adult only, but that is far from the truth. While most folks agree it is not a place for anyone under 18 AFTER 8PM, it is absolutely family friendly for all sized kids before 6pm when most of the drinking and partying starts. Adding to the family fun is the 11am-1pm Free Admission (normally $10 for anyone over 6 years old). Free Admission is available Thursday and Friday of the Contest.

 

bbq1

When most people think of the Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest (WCBCC or MIM) they think of succulent pork, booze and the hedonistic team parties that go on after dark. The family aspect of the festival never crosses their mind…and it really should. I attended my first Memphis in May in 1991 with my parents. My father, Mike, and I walked through the rows of magnificent team booths, and as an 11 year old kid, I was astonished at the scenes that played out before me. Smokers and grills of every imaginable shape and size, hogs splayed out being prepped for the cooker, skits being performed outside of booths, friendly loving people smiling willing to chat with; but the thing I remember most is looking up at my Dad and asking “Can we do this?”; his answer “Absolutely we will, I promise”.

 

This Contest transformed my feelings about food, it cemented my love of Barbecue, my love for the WCBCC…my deep love of Memphis. We finished our visit with a team that let us into their booth, sat down and talked to us. They gave us food, they treated us like family…This one act shaped my later life and my team Too Sauced To Pork, but that is a story for another time.

porkosaurus

 

We had always been a family of outdoor cookers, I remember being 5 years old, living in New Orleans and helping my mom cook blackened redfish on the grill. We also attended Mardi Gras, which also gets a bad rap even though it is really a family holiday. The truth is 99% of stupid things at Mardi Gras go down on Bourbon Street, the rest of the Carnival festivities in the city are celebrated in a family friendly atmosphere. This is just as true with the Memphis in May World Championship BBQ Cooking Contest. 99.9% of the things parents don’t want children to see happens after 7pm. This leaves 11am-6pm, 7 full hours, to have a great time as a family.

redhot

 

I did not know what to expect on that day in 1991, and neither did my parents; but I can tell you as a kid what I didn’t find. I found no nudity or debauchery, as an 11 year old boy I would have definitely remembered that. I found no rowdy behavior, drunken idiots or fighting of any kind. What I did find at 2pm on a Thursday was a multitude of food vendors with no lines ready to serve my family. I found that as a kid interested in BBQ I could go up to any booth and talk to the guys cooking…and they were happy to see me. They would take me back and show me their cookers, a few even tore off a chuck of meat directly from the smoker and had me taste it. We found that during the day this festival is a treasure trove of fun for the meat centric family.

 

t and me

I am now the father of three beautiful girls 6,3 and 2. My oldest can cook ribs and butts with dad, my middle and youngest will tear into bacon like a bag of jellybeans, there favorite foods include nitrate free hotdogs, ribs and pulled chicken. The oldest has been to the contest twice, and will be headed back this year. She loves cooking with Daddy, and I can’t wait for her to have a blast at the contest. Of course, there are certain parts of MIM that are not appropriate for my daughter, and she will be leaving the contest about 5pm every night as the crowds increase and things turn more adult. Teenagers, when not professing how everything in the world sucks, will have fun at the Ms Piggie Idol contest on Thursday, as well as looking at the booths. They can also have fun alongside their parents at the Cooker Caravan, a free tour of team booths led by Memphis in May volunteers (see our guide here for a description). You can also buy tickets to the Kingsford Tour of Champions ($15 for a 1.5 hour session. Click here to learn more), where 3 teams wine and dine you, with artfully prepared pork shoulder and you get to vote who is best.

 

 

 

 

Sample Itinerary for a family with Babies or Toddlers. Tweens and Teens would be in school during Free Admission time, but our itinerary here (Sample Itinerary) can be adapted.

Thursday and Friday

  1. 10:55am arrive at the Beale Street gates, enter the park when the gates open for free at 11am, and find the “Cooker Caravan” Kiosk in the middle of the walkway near the first break in rib tents. Sign up for the 1pm Caravan.
  2.  11:20-12:50 make a loop around “Rib Row” by walking back towards the Beale Street Entrance to the north and making your last left and walking back towards the South along the riverside booths. Grab a little something to eat from a Vendor and talk to teams to make friends. Use your kids, As to take pictures in front of their smokers with your child, we all have a soft spot for kids. Meet back at Cooker Caravan kiosk at 12:50
  3.  100 -1:50 Tour team booths, make friends, take notes of teams that invite you back. Some booths sit well above the ground…if you have a stroller be prepared to hold your toddler as booths are not all that large and some have 2 stories with steep stairs.
  4. 1:50-3pm walk around the “Shoulder and Whole Hog” sections, or go back and visit teams who invited you back to chat…hopefully the kid will fall asleep in the stroller, if not then they will probably be cranky and this might be your last sweep of the contest before retreating for a nap.

US

Saturday

  1. 10:55am arrive at the Beale Street gates, having already bought your ticket online for $9 (NOT FREE ON SATURDAY) enter the park, and proceed to the “Whole Hog” area, they are the first to be judged. Situate yourself where you can duck between 3 team presentations…careful not to make a noise. Observe and be amazed.
    2. 11:50 proceed to the “Shoulder” area, they are the second to be judged. Situate yourself where you can duck between 3 team presentations…careful not to make a noise. Again observe and be amazed.
    3. 12:40 proceed to the “Rib” area, they are the third to be judged. Situate yourself where you can duck between 3 team presentations…careful not to make a noise. Again observe and be amazed.
    4. 1:30-3:30 walk around the sections checking in and chatting to the teams that you visited the day before, if you have done as we said and made friends, they will invite you in for lunch.

Judging

 

Below are the things Memphis in May wants you to know before coming.

 

WCBCC Visitor FAQs

Below are things to know before you visit the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest:

  • This is a competition. Local health regulations prohibit teams from serving barbecue to the general public. There are barbecue vendors, as well as other food vendors that sell food to the public.
  • Food and beverages, including beer, are available from the concessionaires.
  •  
  • All food must be purchased with cash. ATMs are available at Tom Lee Park for your convenience.
  •  
  • Picture I.D.’s will be required from everyone purchasing alcohol.
  •  
  • The Kingsford Tour of Champions and Cooker’s Caravan allow for a team-like WCBCC experience.
  •  
  • Wear comfortable shoes! The park is roughly one mile from end to end.
  •  
  • All packages and purses are subject to inspection.

WHAT NOT TO BRING: No beverages, bicycles, cans, containers, coolers, food, glass bottles, laser pointers, lawn chairs, over-sized umbrellas, pets, roller blades, roller skates, water guns, weapons or thrown objects (baseballs, footballs, frisbees, etc.).

Visitor Information

We love visitors! Each year, the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest entertains visitors from around the world. In 2015, visitors came from all 50 states and several foreign countries. Please let our guest services volunteers know you are our visitor, and they will explain all of the rib-tickling entertainment offerings.

If you’re planning on visiting the event, please take advantage of the following programs and events for visitors.

While local codes prohibit teams from selling barbecue to the general public, the Kingsford Tour of Champions allows you to taste and judge world-class barbecue.

Announcements

Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest 2016

Hello All!

We received our acceptance letter from Memphis in May today. We are very happy to be returning for our 11th MIM. If you are interested in joining us, click “Join us” on the main menu to the right…we will be in contact with you.

0001 (1)

Announcements

Memphis in May 2016

Hello All!

It is that season again, time for the Superbowl of Swine!!!

MAY 11-14 2016

Memphis booths

 

If you are interested in joining Too Sauced to Pork for the Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, please click the Join Us button on the menu to the right.

TSTP BOOTHOur 2015 Team Booth

If you are a spectator planning to attend the festival in 2016 and don’t want to join a team, click here for our Tips for Visitors Not on a BBQ Team

If you are a Barbecue Team looking for a breakdown of what it takes gear and money wise to do this amazing contest click here for our Step by Step Guide to BBQ Fest for Teams

If you are planning on attending Memphis in May an want a great description of what it is like, go to this link from Extraordinary BBQ about the contest.

If you are attending MIM and need a Sample Itinerary on how to do the festival right…here it is

CLICK HERE FOR MEMPHIS IN MAY’S OFFICIAL SITE

Memphis2016

 

Announcements

Memphis in May 2015

Hello all,

One of the reasons we started Too Sauced To Pork was a way to combat the way many attendees and non-team members were treated at BBQ competitions. As you probably know, at Barbecue competitions many teams retreat into their booths only letting a few lucky people into their world. Our team is different. We based our BBQ team on inclusion vs exclusion and treat each other like a family. We have no secrets on our team and we share all of our knowledge openly. We give tours of our booth and cookers to interested passers by, in fact every year at the Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest we open 20 TSTP team membership spots up for BBQ enthusiasts to join us and be a part of our family for this amazing contest.

 

TeamStage

 

Our Unofficial MIM BBQ Fest Guide is listed at the right of this post in the main menu. For anyone interested in attending the contest, this is a good read. It includes sample itineraries, contest best practices, and lots of other info for spectators and teams alike. If you attend the WCBCC drop by our booth and say hello…if we are not in the middle of turn ins or judging, we will be happy to give you a tour of our booth.

 

We currently have 8 new member spots available on the 2015 TSTP MIM WCBCC Team. We have filled up our 20 new spots faster than in previous years so if you are considering joining up with us please drop us a line by y clicking the JOIN US link on the main menu to the right —>

If you have not booked your hotel yet for Memphis in May BBQ Fest, I suggest doing it immediately before the team list is confirmed next week. Once this happens hotels fill up VERY fast. The link below is a map of hotels within walking distance of the contest.
http://www.bealestreethotels.com/map.html


BBQ Fest Countdown

days
0
-130
-1
hours
-2
-2
minutes
-3
-7
seconds
-4
-7

Subscribe to TSTP

Subscribe to our E-mail newsletters and get updates about contests and our plans for Memphis in May.