By Robbie Ward/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Marge Plummer will use her Ph.B. – a doctorate of barbecue philosophy – to help judge 100 teams today at the Don’t Be Cruel BBQ Duel.
Memphis resident Plummer, recognized as an elite judge by the Kansas City Barbecue Society, said she loves barbecue prepared slowly and low to the fire.
Some of the best outdoor cooks in the nation have gathered in Tupelo this weekend, hoping satisfy Plummer’s taste buds for the third annual competition, which includes $15,000 in prize money.
While she has tasted some of the best barbecue prepared in many different ways as a judge in more than 500 competitions, Plummer said her role has drawbacks.
“Once you judge barbecue on the circuit, it’s hard to find it in a restaurant that compares,” she said.
Teams from throughout the region and 17 states, including as far as Wisconsin and New York, will compete today for the opportunity to earn prizes and bragging rights. As part of the Kansas City Barbecue Society rules, each team must prepare pork ribs, pork butt, chicken and brisket for the competition.
Melanie Deas, executive director of the Link Centre and co-chair of the event, said the Fairpark event brings more to the community than tasty food. The family-friendly gathering has a festival atmosphere that includes live music and an assortment of food.
Today at 11 a.m., it also will blend the St. Patrick’s Day theme by holding a kid’s parade at the Fairpark entrance.
While the public can buy $7 plates of barbecue meals at the event and other food, people also can spend $3 to sample five different types of barbecue.
Friday afternoon, Alan and MaryAnn Francis of Saltillo sat outside enjoying the combination of music, food and cool weather.
“It’s great for Tupelo and for all of us,” MaryAnn Francis said. “We meet so many people who are so nice.”