Smoking meat and music on the menu at barbecue contest

Jim Weber/The Commercial Appeal file photo
Kerry Snyder puts finishing touches on the Sow Luau booth at Tom Lee Park in a previous Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest. Cooking teams got to smokin’ on Thursday, joined by the Ms. Piggy Idol contest on opening night of the three-day competition.

Photo by Jim Weber

Jim Weber/The Commercial Appeal file photo Kerry Snyder puts finishing touches on the Sow Luau booth at Tom Lee Park in a previous Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest. Cooking teams got to smokin’ on Thursday, joined by the Ms. Piggy Idol contest on opening night of the three-day competition.

The Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest is under way at Tom Lee Park and, for three days, is the most aromatic temporary city in the world.

Well, maybe not so aromatic to vegans/vegetarians, but for the dedicated 250-plus teams and the many connoisseurs of barbecue, it is a time to celebrate the pig.

Diane Hampton, executive vice president of Memphis in May International Festival, says there are 122 teams competing in the Rib division, 36 in Whole Hog, 55 in Shoulder, and 37 in Patio Porkers. There are teams from Sweden — Memphis in May International Festival’s honored county — as well as Norway, Denmark, Canada and the U.K. As for the weather, Hampton declares “blue skies and sunshine, and I mean it!” The forecast hints at possible rain Friday, but overall, it looks promising.

The contest started Thursday with the Ms. Piggie Idol competition and continues through Saturday when the winners — who will get more than $110,000 in prizes — are announced.

Friday is ancillary judging in the Anything But, Hot Wings, and Sauce categories. Results are announced at 6:30 p.m.

On Saturday, the teams get their presentations together for the main judging from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Winners will be announced and trophies handed out at 6:30 p.m.

One of the newer elements this year is the Kingsford Tour of Champions Judging that allows nontrained consumers to judge barbecue from 16 teams. The judging, which started Thursday, will serve up $2,500 in prize money. Some 400 people signed up to pass judgment, coming from all over the country to sample chopped Boston butt.

The entertainment Friday night is Jimmie Van Zant at the Sharp Main Stage at 7:40. Saturday night’s draw is soul man Percy Sledge at 8.

“Nothing serves barbecue like a little soul,” says Hampton.

Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest

In Tom Lee Park Downtown. Friday: 11 a.m.-midnight. Free admission until 1 p.m. Saturday: 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Tickets are $9 at the gate, free to children ages 6 and younger. Go to GoMemphis.com/memphisinmay for the latest news from the festival grounds; follow us at Twitter.com/gomemphis.

If you go:

Health regulations prohibit teams from serving barbecue to the general public, but food and drink vendors are plentiful. Cash only; ATMs available. Picture ID required for alcohol purchases.

Wear comfortable shoes.

Do not bring bicycles, roller blades, beverages, food, coolers, glass bottles, laser pointers, lawn chairs, oversized umbrellas, pets, water guns, no thrown objects (such as baseballs, footballs, Frisbees), or weapons.

Packages/purses subject to inspection.

There’s a Memphis in May app for iPhone and Android. It’s handy and free.

© 2013 Go Memphis. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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