Rebels win second Pontotoc tailgate competition

Mississippi State and Ole Miss fans gather at the square in downtown Pontotoc for a tailgating competition on Saturday. (Adam Robison)

Mississippi State and Ole Miss fans gather at the square in downtown Pontotoc for a tailgating competition on Saturday. (Adam Robison)

By JB Clark
Daily Journal

PONTOTOC – Tents covered the Pontotoc County Courthouse Square on Saturday afternoon and the smoky smells of chicken and ribs wafted into the air as if Oxford’s Grove or Starkville’s Junction were moved during the off season.

The tents, however, were an unusual assortment of colors, going from red to maroon to blue to white.

Bulldog and Rebel fans from around the Pontotoc area gathered on the square for a tailgating test run and cooking competition in anticipation of the fast-approaching football season.

The Rebels won the competition, which pitted teams against each other in cooking, tailgate setup and storefront decoration.

Cooks competed in four grilling categories: chicken, ribs, vegetables and chef’s choice. Each team had to declare an allegiance to either Ole Miss or Mississippi State and the points were totaled for each school.

Marilyn Johnston of Starkville was cooking for the Bulldogs with some of her friends from Pontotoc.

“We have a lot of friends here in Pontotoc and did this last year,” she said. “Today we’re doing the chef’s choice – shrimp – and chicken.”

Johnston said they grilled during baseball season but haven’t set up their full tailgate since football season last year.

Brad Cornelison, the Rebel team captain and Pontotoc resident, said he planned to win and proudly display the trophy in his storefront all year.

He said Saturday was a practice run for football seasons since it was the first time he dusted off his tailgating gear since the year before.

He was cooking burgers for his team around 1 p.m. but planned to enter pork loin, vegetables and chicken in the competition.

Ellen Russell, director of the Pontotoc County Chamber of Commerce and Main Street Association, said the Bulldogs won last year after a Bulldog fan in disguise got the final points to put the team in the lead.

“Unfortunately, it was a Bulldog in a red shirt,” said Russell, who is a University of Mississippi graduate. “He was sneaky.”

She said the happiest participants the competition were the judges because the food was so good.

Cook-Off Winners

• Rebels – 95
• Bulldogs – 85

• 1 Pure Bliss – She had both State and Ole Miss decorations in her storefront
• 2 Brad Cornelison – Rebels
• 3 Between Sisters – Half and Half

• 1 Summer Washington – Rebels
• 2 Brad Cornelison – Rebels
• 3 Randy Lepard – Bulldogs

• 1 Laurie Bishop – Rebels
• 2 Doug White – Rebels
• 3 Nick Owens – Rebels

• 1 Randy Lepard – Bulldogs
• 2 Jeremy Maxey – Bulldogs

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