GLENDALE SPRINGS — It is not every day when people get to try true competition barbecue. Usually reserved for special events and with money on the line, competitive barbecuing cannot be found at every local barbecue establishment.
Those who attended the Pig Pickin’ BBQ at the Blue Ridge Theater and Events Center Saturday, April 6, got the real thing, cooked by James Killian. The event was originally scheduled for Dec. 8, 2018, but was forced to change due to inclement weather.
Killian, who has been involved in competitive barbecue since 1998, and was a member of the 2006 world champion team, Jack’s Old South. By the time the event opened its doors to the public, Killian had already put more than 20 hours into cooking a whole hog.
The pig, named “Michelle,” was 270 pounds before Kilian and Jim Kaine, who was helping Killian along the way, started to work. After cleaning the pig, they got it down to 220 pounds and Killian said that it cooked down to 190.
“There’s a lot of work that goes into it,” Killian said. “You spend all night checking on it, adding seasonings and stuff to it and making sure it’s cooking right.”
As for why the pig’s head was also getting cooked, and on display for whoever stopped by to a sneak peak, Kaine said some of the best meat comes from the pig’s cheek. Even with a world-champion barbecuer around, “Michelle” was the star. After making the air smell like bacon for a mile in each direction, people there early were more than willing to pull off a piece from the side for a taste.
Later that night, the events center hosted a concert by the Blue Country Band.
The event was not only an opportunity to give the people a chance to try some competition barbecue, but a teaser for something on the horizon. In August, Blue Ridge Theater will be host to the largest barbecue competition in North Carolina. Steve Mochen, the Blue Ridge Theater’s owner, said the event will also feature dozens of local craft breweries and wineries. With the closure of the Blue Ridge BBQ Festival, which was held annually in Tryon, this new event will act as the North Carolina State Championship. Killian said that more than 40 competitors from around the country have already signed up, and the event is set to be an economic boon to Ashe County.