Saturday, April 15, 2017

Judging in a Fire Museum

As unlikely as a fire museum is for being the site of serious barbecue judging, it works just fine for the annual Firehouse BBQ Cookoff in Kings Mountain, NC. For more than twenty years, the firefighters of this small city (population just over 10,000) have organized a celebrated barbecue cookoff.

An antique fire truck is on display at the museum where the judges met.

As one of the first events each year, the contest brings out teams who are starting their competitive schedule for the year. Because the cookoff was one of the first held in North Carolina sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbeque Society, it has attracted very experienced cooking teams for several years. An additional enticement for the pitmasters is that the cookoff is one of the 11 events in the Old North State BBQ series, which offers additional prizes in addition to the prize money awarded in the contests.

Cooking teams set up in the interior of the Deal Park walking track.

At this year’s cookoff, 49 teams competed. In addition to attracting very competitive cooking teams, the Firehouse BBQ Cookoff also brings in very experienced judges. For this year, many judges were master judges, and a few had even participated at more than 100 contests.

Muttley Crew placed first in the ribs category, which propelled it to a top 10 finish.

The Historical Kings Mountain Fire Museum, which opened in 1976 and illustrates the colorful history of firefighting equipment over several decades, has hosted the competition for 21 years. The cooking teams set up in the interior of the Deal Park walking track, which is adjacent to the museum.

A large sign makes sure that the cooking teams know the turn-in times.

After conducting a barbecue cookoff for more than two decades, the firefighters know what they are doing. The event is well planned and organized, and it will be the place to be in April for both cooking teams and judges for years to come.

All is quiet at the turn-in table until the teams bring their chicken entries, the first category to be judged.

A box of large trophies is ready for the awards ceremony.

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