By Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal
FULTON – In 1984, Johnny Trigg of Alvarado, Texas, bought his first barbecue cooker with a firebox.
He had no idea what he was doing.
He had some successes. He made some mistakes. And he learned everything he could about cooking with wood, rather than charcoal.
“I tried to cook my first brisket and I tell you shoe leather is more tender than that was,” said Trigg, 72.
About five years later, Trigg was reading the Dallas Morning News and he saw an article about a barbecue cooking contest. So he made the trip to Dallas and he started talking to pros at the competition.
“And I thought, ‘Man, I’ve got to do this,’” said Trigg.
The first contest Trigg entered, he won third place for his brisket. The next weekend, he entered another contest and won a few more awards.
“And I just kept on and on,” he said. “The rest is history.”
Trigg, was featured in 2009 on TLC’s “BBQ Pitmasters” show, will be competing Aug. 19-20 in Itawamba County’s first Kansas City Barbeque Society-sanctioned barbecue competition at the Jamie Whitten Center.
He’ll be among 40 pros from all over the country who’ll be competing for $7,500 in prize money at the “Stand by Your Grill” barbecue cookoff. The competition is being held in conjunction with the public dedication on Aug. 18 of a Mississippi Country Music Trail marker in Tremont in honor of Tammy Wynette, who was born in Itawamba County.
“We’re full at 40 professional teams,” said Kim Graham, community development director for the Itawamba County Development Council. “But we can take a few more amateur teams and a few more children’s teams, who will compete around the court square in downtown Fulton. The deadline to enter is Friday.”
For more information or to enter, visit www.itawamba.com/bbq or call (662) 862-4571.
The biggest contest Trigg has ever won was the Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitational Barbecue held in Lynchburg, Tenn., often referred to as the world’s most prestigious barbecue competition.
“I didn’t do well the first time I entered,” he said. “It was a different cooking style than I was used to. This was Kansas City Barbeque Society’s rules.”
He entered again and in 2000, he was crowned the World Champion.
He won that title again in 2003.
“As of this day, I’m the only one who’s ever won it twice in the 22 years of the competition,” Trigg said proudly.
Trigg’s team – the Smokin’ Triggers – typically enters four meats: chicken, ribs, pork butt and brisket.
“Each one gets a score and whoever has the highest score at the end of the day is the grand champion,” he said. “You don’t have to win first place in any category, you just have to score well in each category.”
Trigg has competed in contests on the West Coast, East Coast, the Midwest and even in Switzerland. He and a business partner also teach barbecue competition classes from coast to coast.
In 2009, he was one of seven people featured on TLC’s “BBQ Pitmasters” television show.
“Seven of us traveled around the country going to different cookoffs,” he said. “That was a lot of fun.”
When asked for his secret to award-winning barbecue, Trigg didn’t hesitate.
“The first thing is to buy good quality meat,” he said. “Then, you’ve got to have a rub or spice to complement the meat. And last, take a barbecue cooking class. You’ll be 10 years ahead of the game.”
Check it out
WHAT: “Stand by Your Grill” barbecue championship.
WHEN: Aug. 19-20.
WHERE: Pros will cook at the Jamie Whitten Center; amateurs and children will compete on the court square in downtown Fulton.
EVENTS: Barbecue competition; “True Country Festival” featuring entertainment, children’s activities, arts and crafts, and barbecue vendors.
INFO: www.itawamba.com/bbq or (662)