Posts Tagged ‘Memphis in May 2013’

Memphis in May BBQ Contest Tips For Visitors not on a BBQ Team


memphisinmay walk in

memphis_in_may full view

We at team Too Sauced To Pork wrote this to help you out!!

Every year we open up 20 spots on our team for people from all over the world with a love of BBQ.  Click the join us button on the right to submit your name for consideration as a team member.

First click this YouTube video of James Hyter singing “OL MAN RIVER” to get you in the mood while you read


Mr Hyter was an Icon in Memphis, he was beloved by all that heard him. He sang this song multiple times in a row at each Sunset Symphony for 21 years to thunderous applause and deafening roars of appreciation. Have any Memphian who had the privilege to attend watch this, and they will tear up. This is his last performance at the Memphis in May Sunset Symphony 1998


Team Booths

All booths are private parties. Unless you know someone on a team, you will most likely not be able to gain access into a booth or the food and drink within, UNLESS you talk nicely to teams, and this doesn’t mean nicely go up and ask for food, you will most likely be dead in the water begging for food.

Nicely ask where they are from, relate to them, ask about our smokers, where we get our meat, what is involved in doing a contest as amazing as Memphis in May.  After this line of questioning, many of us will give you a little tour. Subtle, good-hearted flattery works very well in BBQ. Then express GRATITUDE to your new friend by asking if there is anything you could do for them.

Most will say no,

But some will ask if you would mind doing a little clean up or an odd job around the booth…THIS IS A TEST!!! 

This means they like you and they are judging your work ethic. You could be headed toward a weekend pass, or be invited as a member next year






Teams are not Vendors, we can not give away food and drinks to the general public. Teams can only distribute their wares to their “invited guests”.  An “Invited Guest” by Memphis in May rules is anyone within the boundaries of a team booth.

Teams CANNOT charge you to enter their area, that is a major MIM rule violation.  If you are invited into a booth you are however allowed to tip your bartender for the free drinks you have been given.  That is just common courtesy. Tip them well.

Bartenders courtesy of Team Cadillac Grillz


 Many booths have a security guard on the door at night during “Party Time”. 

You will not get in without;

  1. Knowing your buddies name – their full name, and probably their SSN and mothers maiden name
  2. Or having the gift of gab
  3. OR being a good looking female
  4. Or you actually followed the advice in the first paragraph and made friends with a team


Number 3 works on 75% of booths with large parties, and remember, according to our friend Paul Ryburn of the Moody Ques BBQ Team, The tube top is the official garment of Memphis in May, so wear it proud ladies.


party time





Piggy Idol







Piggie Idol3



There are vendors that sell food, drink, and merchandise to the general public. Teams can not do this or we will be DISQUALIFIED from the Contest. These VENDORS take cash, bring cash. There are atm’s in the park but bringing cash ensures no fees, and avoids breakdowns and outages.



Gate admission is FREE on Thursday and Friday from 11am-1pm

Gate admission is $10 after 5pm Wednesday, and 1pm Thursday and Friday, and all day Saturday



WEAR COMFORTABLE SHOES…We can not stress this enough. The park is a mile long…you will walk up and down it many times, a member of our team, Neil, wore a pedometer a few years back. In the time he was at the contest, he walked 47 miles in 4 days. 17 on Friday alone. Your feet will get stepped on, there could be mud, there are plenty of sharp pebbles to get stuck betwixt your toes, not to mention the evil discarded (INVISIBLE AT NIGHT) corn dog pungi sticks. Nothing will ruin your day faster than a limping trip to the first aid tent…PROTECT YOUR FEET!



Kingsford Tour of Champions

 Onsite judging is Thursday and Friday – $15 gets 3 half hour team sessions with samples of bbq, SERVED IN TEAM BOOTHS.

You need to sign up for this NOW as it sold out the last 5 years

Register Here for Kingsford Tour Of Champions

Cooker Caravan

Tours of team booths leaving every half hour from 1130-330 daily FREE FREE…did I say FREE


Tastings of team eats in a dedicated area reserved just for you. Ticketed Event

Memphis in May VIP Ticket Program

Access to many of the top MIM Team Booths, Booze, Food, the Whole Shebang.

Information here




The weather can be Sun and Beauty at noon, then ten minutes later you feel the breeze kick up watching over Ol Man River towards Arkansas you spot it, HEAVY, DARK, BLACK and PENDULANT

It is the pestilence of BBQ Fans everywhere…a THUNDERCLOUD. Do not fret, it will pass, they are usually quick. Calmly and with gratitude, ask a nearby team if you may shelter down with them until the worst passes. Most will say yes, if they say no; nod, say thank you anyway, and move to the next team. DO NOT YELL at them…teams will not let angry people in their tents, we will see your blow up and not let you in our tent located next door.

If they don’t let you in, shame on them, Karma will reign supreme come awards. 


It can go from this

nice day


To this…

a bit overdramatic I know..


But we teams were forced to evacuate the Contest back in 2003 when a tornado was just across the river. Friday night, middle of a huge party, Shoulders and Hogs on the smokers…ask any of the teams that were there, it was crazy, it will probably rain one day for an hour, but once again let me state that weather such as the picture above IS VERY VERY RARE!



Outside food and drink can only be brought in by teams, specifically members of teams with 24 hour park wristbands…they will search anything you bring, and you will be forced to throw away any “contraband” items.

No beverages, bicycles, cans, containers, coolers, food, glass bottles, laser pointers, lawn chairs, oversized umbrellas, pets, roller blades, roller skates, water guns, no thrown objects such as baseballs, footballs, frisbees-etc., or weapons.

For more information click here to read our FULL UNOFFICIAL GUIDE to Memphis in May BBQ Fest



Want official info from Memphis in May –

Contest Map

Official Visitor Information

2013 Team Names and Bios

Entertainment Schedule

Article Provided by

Too Sauced To Pork Championship BBQ Team

Memphis TN – Buffalo NY

Memphis in May BBQ Fest

Picture this: You arrive in Memphis, Tennessee on a Thursday morning in May. 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 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 of the Peabody, taking notice of the ducks splashing around in the center fountain, and the tux clad jazz pianist in the bar.

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 World Championship of Swine.

It is an amazing sight to behold. As you walk through the huge gate 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 thru Saturday, it is certified by Guinness as the “World’s 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 starting my 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 21 of my 33 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.

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 26ft wide by 50ft deep. That is 1300 square feet, before you start adding levels to them… That’s right MULTIPLE STORY booths. Some of these scaffolding-boned portable structures are 3 stories tall, that’s 3900 square feet of Pure Porkin’ Party.

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. 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…

Friday is chocked 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 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 250.

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 two football fields wide and a full mile long with the majestic Mississippi as a backdrop. Where else in the World can you meet BBQ enthusiasts from across the globe, like the Danish National BBQ Team, 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, Melissa Cookston, Brad and Brooke Orrison, 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, 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.

BBQ Fest Countdown


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