Photos by Lance Murphey/Memphis in May
The Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, scheduled May 16 to 18 in downtown’s Tom Lee Park, is getting user-friendly.
For the first time, visitors will be able to judge barbecue prepared on-site in a program called the Kingsford Tour of Champions. Their scores will determine the winning team, which will receive a $2,500 prize.
Before judging teams, visitors will attend a short training in the judges’ tent for instructions and scorecards. They also must pay a $10 fee and pre-register online by May 14.
Judging sessions will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. and 4 to 6 p.m. on May 16 and 17. Each judge will evaluate the chopped Boston butt prepared by four of the event's 16 participating teams.
“We think this is a great way for novice judges and people who just want to have fun to sample championship barbecue,” said Diane Hampton, executive vice president of Memphis in May.
Typically, only certified judges participate in the cooking contest, which is the largest pork barbecue competition in the world. More than 100,000 people are expected for this year’s event, which will feature 250 cooking teams from Canada, England, Denmark, Norway and from across the United States.
A signature event for the month-long Memphis in May celebration, the cooking contest is one of the most popular food events in the country. In fact, Forbes recently named the barbecue cooking contest one of its top-10 spring food festivals, along with the New Orleans Wine & Food Experience held this year from May 22 to 25.