Saturday, May 19, 2007

BBQ Festing

Growing up in Memphis, there were two things I never visited even though I took much pride in them as a hometowner: Graceland and the Memphis In May International Barbecue Cooking Contest.

The latter, at least, I get to knock out and get paid for doing so this week as the director of the remote for a nightly half-hour special, "Smoke on the Water."

Did I mention that I've been miserable? Starting Wednesday, the first minute we set foot on Tom Lee Park to set up, I've been sneezing, sniffling and had a headache. I'm allergic to the Mississippi River, apparently. So much for my dream of being a riverboat captain. Oh, and my face looks like a turnip, and I have matching cold sore colonies on each side of my bottom lip. Stupendous.

This view is always in the top five of "Reasons I always knew I'd have a hankering to move back to Memphis."

As the official TV sponsor of the event, we're the only local station to have a compound within the party zone.

Inside the production trailer, my home base.

Down among the 200-plus teams, they get very creative with their booths, especially with Spain as the country being recognized for Memphis In May.

Contestants get ready for the Miss Piggie "talent" competition. To put it into perspective, teams begin rehearsing in January for this, and even longer to set up their booths, spend thousands and thousands of dollars, and if they win anything only get a percentage of that back.

Either the pig is asking for amnesty, or is a traitor to its people.

Thursday night was the Fox 13 client party, good for schmoozing, a band and catered barbecue. (It's kind of expected.)

It's been a good weekend, and I've got one more night tonight to wrap up after the awards are handed out, despite my allergies acting up like a two-year-old in the Backyardigan section of Toys 'R Us.

To be honest, though, if you're not competing and you aren't a friend of someone who is, there's not any reason to come downtown and pay to walk around, with vendors overcharging for BBQ that you can readily get on any street corner in a 50-square mile area.


Scott said...

I, too, never attended the BBQ Fest. In fact, I don't recall ever attending anything Memphis in May related.

So if I understand have to pay a cover fee to get into the park, and then pay each vendor separately for their bbq?

Also, are their vendors that offer chili? Or am I thinking of something different?

Pandora said...

Wow, a Backyardigans reference! I'm glad you're finding things to enjoy about Memphis again. And I agree, all you need is some Pig Pig BBQ or Garibaldi's bbq pizza and that urge is satisfied at a reasonable price.

Michael - Lover of Amy said...

I like BBQ, never been a raving fan. I like brunswick stew more, and I understand there are competitions every so often between Brunswick, GA and Brunswick, VA for the better stew.

Around here the biggest thing is Dreamland, which is apparently a small chain with roots in Tuscaloosa, AL. It's supposed to be great, but the one in Roswell, GA has made me ill the two times I tried it. I think it's too much vinegar in the sauce, I like the BBQ with a thicker, redder, sweeter sauce, and I like it premixed with the meat before being made into the sandwich, not poured over dry meat.

Michael - Lover of Amy said...

So who made the two teams trade uniforms between games in Boston yesterday?

Jeff said...

Michael, Dreamland is what we call "wannabe BBQ." Ain't nowhere near the real thing, no matter what those Alabamians think. And the fact that Atlantans have to rely on it is just sad.

Funny thing is, though, the big winner last night was from Georgia! So why can't they open their own BBQ joint in Atlanta?

Oh, and I forgot to add the Sunset Symphony to things I haven't done and I'm a little ashamed as a Memphian. It's this Saturday, but I doubt everyone will want to slog downtown for it after going to the zoo.

Steph, I've been craving Garibaldi's BBQ pizza, and haven't had it since returning. What's wrong with me? I work across the street from the U. of Memphis, for goodness' sake!