More than 50 get certified as barbecue tasters

By Danza Johnson | NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Barbecue judges are created, not born.
That’s why more than 50 people participated in a Kansas City-style barbecue judging certification class at the Link Centre on Saturday.
In March, Tupelo will be hosting its second annual Don’t Be Cruel BBQ Duel at Fair Park. The contest is a sanctioned, state-qualifying contest for Kansas City-style barbecue. Some of the judges for the competition could very well come from Saturday’s class.
“These people will be learning the ins and outs of judging Kansas City-style barbecue,” said competition volunteer Jennifer Falkey. “Not just taste, because there is more to judging barbecue than just taste. But they will be learning meat texture, smell and other aspects of good barbecue. This is a great event for Tupelo and we are glad to see so many people participating.”
Bradley Mitchell of Tupelo was one of the participants. Mitchell said he considered himself a barbecue expert until Saturday.
“There is so much more to knowing what good barbecue is than I ever would have thought,” Mitchell said. “There is the smoke factor, the type of wood you use and the different textures in meat. This class has really been helpful.”
Participants got to sample and judge chicken, ribs, beef brisket and Boston butts. Steve Porter helped prepare the meat.
“This is just a good event and a good way to get people interested in barbecue,” said the Tupelo resident.
Brian McGraw, a competition organizer, said the fact a judging certification course was being held is proof that the event has grown in its second year.
“We hope this event just keeps growing and growing,” McGraw said. “People are hearing about it and getting very excited. This is going to be a benefit to the whole area.”
The Don’t Be Cruel BBQ Duel will be held March 16-17. There will be $14,000 in prize money given award for the various categories. For more information, go to

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