Here a team has a few racks of ribs ready for the smoker. Six to eight hours later, these will be tender, juicy, and ready to eat. How did they taste?
The finished product
Well, I can't really tell you how those ribs tasted. A common misconception for visitors is that you can just show up and eat as much BBQ as you want. The teams are not allowed to serve to the public due to health codes, but there are plenty of authorized vendors on site. Not just the usual carnival fare, but local BBQ joints will set up stalls selling smoked turkey legs, kielbasa, and other 'cue in addition to the standard ribs and pulled pork.
The Moody Ques
Firing up the grill
The team members don protective gloves to start refilling the offset fire box on the smoker. Only wood and charcoal are allowed at the WCBCC.
Pork shoulder goodness
One of The Moody Ques takes a cleaver to pork shoulder to begin prepping a dish for the judge. Leftovers will be enjoyed for lunch, dinner, and for days afterward.
Puns are welcomed, encouraged, and celebrated at the WCBCC. This one gets bonus points for the Waffle House-style letters on top of the booth. For a good groan, read the entire list of team names.
Blast from the past
Some teams got pretty creative with their booths. As someone who watched M*A*S*H in reruns as a child, I loved this one.
The spirit of things
Expect to see some bizarre statuary that only gets used once a year. You'll see something like this, laugh, and then notice your dentist in the background drinking a beer.
The contest also attracts commercial vendors of BBQ grills, smokers, and equipment. Here's the setup for my father's rig of choice, the ceramic kamado-style cooker called The Big Green Egg. You can use it for smoking, grilling, or even as a great pizza oven.
American Idol (sort of)
Voo Doo Q used their black magic to win third place in the Piggy Idol contest, in which guys dress up in pig masks and evening gowns to compete in the world's most questionable beauty contest.
Most teams will have their own t-shirts, like this group that is waiting outside the tent during a judging session. These t-shirts will be worn for years until they fall apart, and every now and then somebody's kid gets in trouble for wearing one of the racier ones to school.
The whole hog
A cold and cleaned out smoker is used for the presentation of my favorite category: the whole hog. Lots of people go crazy over ribs, but you can cook a lot of racks and present the few perfect ones. With a whole hog, you don't have that many chances, and the cooking time can range from 12-24 hours. Imagine cooking bacon, pork chops, jowls, ribs, hams, and everything else using a single cooking method. Done properly, every part is delicious.
Markers of glory
Awards are presented on Saturday night, and teams will proudly display them for years to come at the festival, but also on a rotating basis at the homes of team members. Sunday is the day that you tear everything down, clean up and return home, and on Monday, head into work a little sunburned, tired, and still faintly smelling like smoke and roasted pig. But it's well worth all the hard work.