If you live in the South you know about barbecue. Then again, someone else from another state, or sometimes another county in your own state, will tell you that you don't know anything about barbecue at all. It seems every region or locality has its own favorite style of barbecue and the people that live there will swear by it.
But this week in South Carolina they're getting ready to settle the debate about who makes the best barbecue once and for all. At stake are supreme "bragging rights" and when the prizes are handed out, everyone will know with certainty and finality, who the best barbecue cook really is. So mark your calendars. The top pit masters are already warming up their barbecues. The "Commissioner's Cup" barbecue cook off and festival at the State Farmers' Market is slated for West Columbia, March 23 and 24.
Of course, it's all in fun (albeit "dead-serious fun"). Best of all, perhaps, its for a local charity. Part of the proceeds for the event will benefit Harvest Hope Food Bank. Southern BBQ Network, an organization who sanctions barbecue cook offs in South Carolina, will oversee the proceedings.
The categories for the Commissioner's Cup include: Anything But, Butts, and Ribs, along with Grand Champion and Reserve Champion. Appropriately, Hugh Weathers, South Carolina Commissioner of Agriculture, will present the awards on Saturday afternoon of the event.
The event is open to the public. Gates open on Friday at 5 p.m. and Saturday at 10 a.m. Admission is $5 on Friday and $10 on Saturday. Children 12 and under accompanied by a parent who bring canned food items for Harvest Hope will be admitted free.
"We are looking forward to a great crowd for our first barbecue cook-off at the market, says Jackie Moore of the S.C. Department of Agriculture, who is serving as the festival coordinator. "And it also helps benefit the Harvest Hope Food Bank."
Along with the awards, there will be free entertainment, barbecue tastings, and local vendors selling S.C. specialty foods. There will also be barbecue-cooking demonstrations in the exhibition kitchen located inside the Corbett Building at the market.
The State Farmers Market is located at 3483 Charleston Highway, West Columbia, 29172. For more information, visit www.agriculture.sc.