Sam's Club National BBQ Tour stops in Laurel [Russett]

On Aug. 17, the 2013 Sam's Club National BBQ Tour Region 5 took place in the front parking lot of the Russett Sam's Club. Every competitor is judged in four categories: chicken, ribs, pork and brisket. The overall points received in each category determine the first, second and third place winners. All prizes are sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbecue Society and all the judges must be certified by the society.

The 2013 Grand Champion Award went to the BBQ Guru from Fort Wayne, Ind., and the 2013 Reserve Champion Award went to Aporkalypse Now from Springfield, Va.

The event was hosted by Troy Black, a champion barbecue pitmaster and competitive barbecue chef who was series director of the Sam's Club National BBQ Tour. Black has been featured on the Travel Channel, Food Network Channel, Fox and Friends and the CBS Early Show, demonstrating his culinary technique in the art of barbecuing.

Saturday's event was the tour's third year where barbecue veterans and novices come together to compete in a total of 25 local events and five regional events leading to the ultimate goal, the National Championship. Held in Bentonville, Ark., home of Sam's Club, the National Championship includes a prize of $500,000, the largest in the barbecue industry.

Scooting through the parking lot, I stopped by Uncle Pig's Barbecue Pit from Gibbstown, N.J., and spoke to Ercole Chila, who has been competing since 2010. Ercole won awards in state and national events in 2011, 2012 and 2013 and ranked seventh out of 29 competitors in the overall rankings for Saturday's event. A sample taste of barbecue brisket left my husband, Tim, speechless.

Moving on, I spoke to Michael Fay of Aporkalypse Now and president of the Mid Atlantic BBQ Association, who has been competing for three years and won many awards and ranked second out of 29 competitors in the overall rankings for this event. I sampled a piece of his barbecue brisket and it was great.

Needless to say, the culinary techniques used in barbecue are something that takes years to perfect. Barbecue is an art form in its own right, just as a wine connoisseur takes years to perfect his or her palate for that once-in-a-lifetime fine wine.

Congratulations to everyone and see you in Russett in 2014!

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