By Ginna Parsons
TUPELO – The Link Centre’s fourth annual Don’t Be Cruel BBQ Duel heats up this weekend at Fairpark in downtown Tupelo.
The Kansas City Barbeque Society-sanctioned competition and festival on Friday and Saturday is free and open to the public. Ninety-eight professional teams have signed up to compete for more than $15,000 in prize money, said Bev Crossen, event organizer.
Among them are Johnny Trigg’s Smokin’ Triggers from Alvarado, Texas; Que’n Stew’n & Brew’n from Kennesaw, Ga.; Pellet Envy from Leawood, Kan.; Jiggy Piggy from Decatur, Ala.; Warren County Pork Choppers from Bowling Green, Ky.; 2012 BBQ Duel Grand Champion Killer Hogs from Southaven; and 2013 BBQ Grand Champion Brew ‘N’ Bar-B-Que from Shawnee, Kan.
“Last year we were at full capacity – 100 teams – and we feel like a couple more will sign up in the next few days and fill in the last two spots,” Crossen said.
Arts and crafts and food vendors will be set up around Fairpark all weekend and live entertainment begins at 10:30 a.m. both days. Scheduled to appear are Bob Ray, Full Throttle, Priscilla Barker, Tim Warren, Bonfire Orchestra, Spunk Monkees, Evan Adams, Jordan Mallory, Breedlove Band, Mink Brothers and Greg Dillard Band.
The People’s Choice Judging Tent will open at 11 a.m. Saturday for attendees to sample Boston butt barbecue from different competition teams and vote for their favorite. The cost is $5 for five tastes.
“Don’t be late,” Crossen said. “The People’s Choice is only available while supplies last. They usually sell out in a couple of hours.”
If you miss the People’s Choice, barbecue plates will be on sale Friday and Saturday, beginning at 11 a.m.
The children’s area, with activities and demonstrations by Two Dragons Martial Arts, will be open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and will be joined by Excel by 5, Tupelo Fire Department and Healthworks! on Saturday, with a special St. Patrick’s Day Children’s Parade at 10 a.m. Saturday.
The Don’t Be Cruel BBQ Duel is the annual signature fundraiser for Link Centre, a nonprofit organization that fosters creative partnerships in the arts and social services for residents of Northeast Mississippi.
Thanks to a grant from the Mississippi Humanities Council, Clark “Smoky” Hale will be on hand Saturday to make two presentations. “Southern Barbecue: America’s Oldest Art Form” is at 10:30 a.m. and addresses the origin of barbecue, its history and its growing popularity. “Grillin’ with Smoky” at 3 p.m. offers cooking tips and insight into the culture of barbecue.
“We were trying to add an educational program to the event this year,” Crossen said. “We’d love to have participation in this.”
Films from the Southern Foodways Alliance BBQ Collection also will be screened throughout the weekend. Both the films and the presentations will take place in the Tupelo City Hall Council Room.
For more information about this event, visit www.tupelobbqduel.com or call (662) 690-4011.