The annual Big Pig Jig in Vienna, Georgia may attract teams from all over the nation, but this year, Georgia Barbecue Association members dominated the categories, including Grand Champion to Bubba Grills.
Smokin J’s Barbeque did not compete in the Big Pig Jig; however, Doug, our pit master, did work with 2nd place Whole Hog winner, Rescue Smokers.
We do not have whole hog experience, nor a cooker to hold a minimum 85 lb hog, so Robby Royal, whom you may have seen on television, winning the 2013 BBQ Pitmasters Competition; allowed Doug to participate on his cook team.
“It was an honor to work with a Pitmaster Champion,” said Doug. “I learned alot about smoking a whole hog.”
The Big Pig Jig is an annual event sanctioned by the MBN (Memphis Barbecue Network). Teams can cook in as many, or as few categories as they wish, including,
- Whole Hog
- Pork Shoulder
Much like the Georgia Barbecue Association, the MBN has two rounds of judging for the major categories, whole hog, ribs and pork shoulder.
First, teams must prepare a preliminary round box. Judges will perform blind tastings, as they will not know which box belongs to which team.
For Whole Hog, samples of the ham, shoulder and loin must be in the box. All preliminary boxes must include enough samples to feed six judges. As an experienced cook team, we would recommend FILLING the box beyond just six portions.
Teams are narrowed down to the top three teams in each major category; therefore, nine entries will compete in the final round.
MBN – On-site Judging
Unlike the GBA, the final round of judging in the MBN is what they call, “on-site judging.”
Four judges will visit the top three whole hog, ribs and shoulder teams. Each team will only have 15 minutes to present their cook site and their meat. Teams are notified of what time the judges will arrive, which usually allows for about an hour for preparation.
In the final round, judges decisions are based on five criteria…
- Cook site organization and personal appearance of team
- Presentation of the smoker, as well as the meat on the smoker
- Appearance of the meat being sampled
- Tenderness of the meat
- Flavor of the meat
After considering these criterion, judges will give the team an overall impressions score which will eventually determine the Grand Champion of the event.
This may sound easy enough, but the presentation is nerve-racking, especially for the lead presenter, which in most cases is the pit master. He/she must be confident, calm and knowledgeable of the entire smoke process.
“You are basically selling yourself, your food and your team, during the presentation,” said a veteran competitor.
Unique to the Big Pig Jig, many teams have purchased cook sites for just this annual event.
Most sites are at least 40′ x 40′ and owners are responsible for the upkeep of their site.
Rescue Smokers worked diligently, over several months preparing their cook site. Fresh paint, installing air-conditioning and adding barbecue decor, Robby and Stephanie Royal created a tribute to first responders, but maintained a rural backyard ambiance.
Attending the Big Pig Jig for the first time, reaffirmed my belief in the Georgia Barbecue Association family.
Doug and I cannot thank Rescue Smokers enough for allowing us to share in their whole hog victory.
It was amazing how many GBA members collaborated to participate in the southeast’s largest and oldest barbecue cooking contest.
Here are just a few….
- Rescue Smokers
- Smokin J’s Barbeque
- Rub Shakers Que – who also won 1st place in ribs
- Southern Hogs
- Hold Your Horses BBQ
- Captain Jack’s Freedom BBQ Team
- Smokin The Good Stuff
- Weekend Warriors Competition BBQ Team
- Bubba Grills – also won Grand Champion for whole hog
- Off The Chain
Congratulations to everyone who walked this stage this weekend. Hope to see you next year.