Barbecue competition draws fans to Smyrna

The fourth annual Tennessee Heritage Barbecue Festival, affiliated nationwide with the Kansas City BBQ Society, is taking place at Sam Davis Home in Symrna, this coming Father’s Day weekend, June 16 – 17.

Bring your dad and partake in all things pork and if he’s a military veteran then he can get into the festival for free with military ID. Other adults, 12 and up will pay a charge of $5.

“The $5 fee allows access to the grounds of the Home, which includes all music, demonstrations and state-of-the art museum,” Dr. George Smith, chairperson of the festival said. “Food must be purchased [separately] from vendors.”

Besides food, this year’s festival will be “honoring our military past and present.” For example, there will be Civil War reenactors, a showing of a helicopter that served in Iraq and an honoring of the veterans who have served in Iraq as well. These activities seem pretty logical for a place that holds a lot of military history.

“During my study of the Sam Davis Home I found out that during the Civil War the Davis farm or plantation supplied pork to the Confederate army,” Smith said. “This historical fact [fits] very nicely with the idea of a barbecue festival.”

Indeed it does, and Sam Davis himself is a legendary confederate soldier who was captured and killed by the Union for not giving up information and turning his fellow soldiers in. You can learn even more information about heroic Sam Davis and the home at the festival, but if a history lesson isn’t your idea of fun, other activities will surely pique your interest. Musical entertainment will be provided for your listening pleasure. On Saturday, the Good News Band, a bluegrass and gospel band will play at 1p.m. with The Jackson Street Band, following their performance at 2p.m.

Kids aren’t left out either. With a rock climbing wall and a whole Kid Zone, the festival has a little something for everyone.

“Last year the event attracted 3,500 individuals,” Smith said. “This year, based upon inquiry and the fact that we will honor the military . . . we are planning for 6 to 8,000.”

If you don’t have anything planned yet for your Father’s Day weekend or just don’t want to take the time and cook out, take the drive over to Smyrna and judge the barbecue for yourself.

For more information about the festival, visit tennnesseeheritagebarbecuefestival.com.

Guide to the TN Heritage Barbeque competition

Meats cooked at the competition: Chicken, pork ribs, pork butt or shoulder, beef brisket.

When are meats turned in for judging? Sunday afternoon. Chicken: Noon, Ribs: 12:30 p.m., Pork Butt: 1 p.m., Brisket: 1:30 p.m.

How much Prize Money do teams compete for? The grand champion can win $1,500. A category offers, for example, $750 for first, $500 for second, $300 for third.

What do teams do to prep meat? One technique is injecting. Others just use spice rubs made from salt, sugar, paprika, chili powder, cayenne, garlic and other flavorings. Woods like hickory, oak, apple and cherry are also used for flavor.

Who judges the barbecue and what do they look for? Judging is done by Kansas City Barbecue Society judges, based on appearance, taste and tenderness. Taste carries the most weight.

Can I eat barbecue from the teams competing? The official answer is no, but some that compete that also sell barbecue. You can always make friends with a team, talk to them about their cooker and offer to help clean up, and you may get a doggy bag!

Special thanks to Jeff Fellers, chief cook of Light My Fire barbecue based in Murfreesboro.


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