MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – It was an unusually quiet morning outside the Liberty Bowl for the Southern Heritage Classic with the absence of Tom Joyner Morning Show, but the cookers still showed up.
For the first time in more than a decade, the Tom Joyner Morning Show wasn’t hyping people up on Friday morning for the SHC. Joyner previously announced he’ll be retiring.
While people parked in their RVs took advantage of the few extra hours of sleep, the Just Us Social non-profit group from Coldwater, Mississippi, was out early with the grills and smokers.
Glenn Billingsley, a member of Just Us and owner of Big Poppa’s Bar-B-Que, said the group has a passion for cooking for others and has been at the Classic for the last 18 years.
“We just love the southern hospitality, when good friends come together to socialize and mix and mingle,” Billingsley said. ‘We just have a great, great time.”
Most of all, Billingsley said, they’re looking forward to eating good food.
The group started setting up around 6:30 a.m. Friday. They planned to make more than 100 slabs of ribs, among the many other meats they’ll throw on throughout the day into the night.
Terry Finley, one of the founders of Just Us, said the group spent the last two months preparing and planning to feed people during the event. He said he looks forward to the Southern Heritage Classic every year.
“I can start with one to ten with what’s special about here. The excitement. I just love the excitement of getting together. Seeing everybody happy, everybody smiling,” he said.
Southern Heritage Classic founder Fred Jones said, with the poor weather last year that ultimately led to the game being cancelled, there’s a “tremendous” amount of anticipation this year.
“There will be thousands and thousands of people. I’ll say it in a different way, every bit of space in the fairground, every bit of space for the Southern Heritage Classic will be taken. There will not be an empty spot,” Jones said.