Grills Fire Up for Memphis in May BBQ Fest Kickoff

Grills Fire Up for Memphis in May BBQ Fest Kickoff

The best teams from around the world are in Tom Lee Park for the competition. It's considered the 'Super Bowl of Swine.'
MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - The best teams from around the world are in Tom Lee Park for the competition. It's considered the 'Super Bowl of Swine.'

"It's a great event that really shows Memphis as the BBQ capital of the world," said Diane Hampton with Memphis in May.

The grills are fired up for the Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest. 251 teams from all around the world are here to compete.

This is the 31st year for team 'Sow Luau'. "We compete in shoulder but through the week we cook all kinds of things - we got ribs tonight, turkey legs, and spaghetti, and anything you can put on a grill we do," said Kery Snyder.

Mississippi's Melissa Cookston with Yazoo's Delta Q is the reigning champ. Last year was her second time to win the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest. "I'm pretty humbled by that. Especially because I'm a woman in a man's sport, so I wanted to be the best in what was the most difficult and that's whole hog for me," she said.

Hanging out at the Memphis Grizzlies tent for some barbecue was Grizzlies player Quincy Pondexter. The team just returned from winning the Western Conference semifinals beating out OKC.

"It was an amazing feeling, man, and it's just a chance to get to a point that this team has never been before and I'm just so glad to be apart of it," said Pondexter.

While Memphis is still buzzing over the Grizzlies win, hearts at the barbecue festival are also heavier this weekend.

"Obviously we are saddened by the loss of two great barbecue legends. Both John Willingham and Don Pelts are really pioneers in barbecue, they really help define barbecue competitions and great barbecue and particularly helped put Memphis on the map with great barbecue," said Hampton.

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