Now like any barbecue festival, you're not going to get to eat any of the competitive teams' food unless you already know them, but there are plenty of food options and free tasting tents scattered around Tom Lee Park. Since Friday is the day when the teams cook "ancillary" categories like seafood, beef, chicken wings, exotic, etc., there's an even better chance that there might be some leftover for you to snack on if you ask nicely. On Saturday when they are competing in their specialty categories for the big money and hosting judges' visits, the cook areas tend to be little more serious.
Parking is easy to find in the area, especially on the south end of the park, where you'll pay $10-$20 for the day to make sure your car is safe and sound. The promenade along the Mississippi River is pleasant on any day, but when there are 250-plus barbecue teams partying in massive multi-story tents and pavilions, it's even more entertaining.
Locally, a team out of Hendersonville who call themselves Team Manwagon took ninth place in the prestigious Whole Hog category. Carey Bringle's Peg Leg Porkers team placed in two categories. He invited Griffin Bufkin and Harrison Sapp of the acclaimed New Southern Soul Barbecue on St. Simon's Island in Georgia to join his merry crew of pitmaster pranksters this year, and the decision paid off in spades. Their lamb burger slider won 10th place for the team in the Exotic division, and after more than 20 years of competing at Memphis in May, Bringle finally brought home a trophy in the Pork Shoulder category, winning ninth place. This was Bringle's first win as the captain of his own team, although as a founding member of the Hog Wild team, he had three 2nds and a 9th. Judging is very intense and occasionally arbitrary at MiM, so winning any hardware is a big deal.
This is especially true since Bringle's new barbecue restaurant is about to open and that should make a dandy place to display the trophy. That's right, after months of anticipation, The Peg Leg Porker Restaurant will officially open this Friday night, May 24. I've seen the interior of the joint, and it is spectacular, including one extremely dramatic surprise that I won't give away at least until I get a chance to do a First Bite and some of y'all have had a chance to experience for yourself. (Here's a hint: dead pig walking.)
Drop in soon and congratulate Carey on his MiM results and the opening of his longtime dream of a restaurant. He promises a good time and great barbecue, so that is definitely something to look forward to. The fact that it's only a few blocks from the Scene's office ensures at least a base level of dereliction that should keep the party pumping.
The Peg Leg Porker Restaurant
903 Gleaves St.
In the Gulch, behind Yazoo