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BBQ Tour Stop #21: Murphysboro, IL

October 14, 2010
Our next stop was the “Praise the Lard” Barbecue Cook-Off, which is an old-fashion tent revival celebrating the Almighty Pig in Murphysboro, IL. Amy Mills told us about a great place to stay when we came to town called the Green Retreat. Guests at the retreat stay in quaint cabins around a pond and are able to view the working farm and beautiful scenery. Like all remote places, our first evening brought us an encounter with a couple of critters. Certain that one of them had to be a bear or at least a raccoon, we headed into town for a radio interview with Mike Mills in the morning. We were sure to tell everyone about our run-in with the large animal – only to find out that when we made it back to the cabin, it was just a little field mouse that was stuck to a glue pad…

Once our mystery was solved, we moved onto the barbecue! This was the festival’s 23rd year, and there were 12 MBN teams and 44 KCBS teams competing. The community wraps itself around the contest, as throngs of folks attended the Thursday night fish fry and then the Friday night Championship BBQ dinner. Mike Mills, his daughter Amy and the WHOLE 17th Street Bar and Grill crew put on a wonderful event for the teams, judges and Murphysboro community.

As the teams loaded in on Thursday, the cook sites were large and there was a walkway through the center of the teams. As Chris and I walked around, it was great to visit old friends and new ones alike. Melissa and Pete of Yazoo’s Delta Q, who we met in Sparks, NV, were in Murphysboro competing in the MBN division. On Thursday night, they even joined a crowd of us watching the outdoor TV at 17th Street for the season finale of BBQ Pitmasters. Backdraft BBQ was set up right across from our stage and had a front row seat for our demonstrations and even shared some of their fantastic BBQ with us! We went out on Saturday morning to check the use of Kingsford Charcoal and were pleasantly surprised when we visited the Que’s Your Daddy site. Doc had improvised a contraption to burn Kingsford Charcoal in his FEC to add more smoke flavor to his cooking. It did get him a top 10 finish with top 5’s in both Pork and Brisket!

There are some great aspects of the Murphysboro contest; one being the location. The cook site is cattycorner to the 17th Street Bar and Grill, which is a great place to visit. Walking through the doors framed by Memphis in May trophies is a wonderful feeling, and it has some of the best BBQ in the country. It is also right down the street from Dairy Queen! I think in the four days we were in Murphysboro, we visited DQ about nine times! Another benefit is the goodie bag given to the teams for participating. In the Cooks meeting, they announce to send not one but two team members to retrieve the overflowing bushel basket of stuff!

On Saturday afternoon at the awards ceremony, the stage was filled with all the MBN and KCBS trophies. Each trophy had a Budweiser can incorporated, which really differentiated them from the “standard” trophy. Twyford BBQ and Catering, Quau, and many others were among the winners. Quau was also crowned Grand Champion, picking up the over-sized Kingsford Check.

After packing up at the end of the day, Chris and I were invited to the Big House at Green Retreat to unwind and celebrate another successful event with Carolyn and Bill, the KCBS contest representatives along with Debby, Bob, and Dave and his wife, who are in training for being contest rep’s themselves. Pizza and a Big Bucket were on the menu, as Chris finally let me add tequila!

While we were pulling out on Sunday morning, we had a nice visit with Mike Mills who thanked us again for attending their event. It was our pleasure, and we were so grateful to bring the BBQ Tour to such a beloved event for teams, judges and Barbeque lovers alike!

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