WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 10, 2022
Sunday, 17 April, 2022 23:50

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.

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