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Kiwanis Club wins showmanship award at Cape barbecue festival
Today's judges at the 16th annual Cape BBQ Fest will determine who takes home the towering trophy, cash prize and bragging rights, but at Friday night's showmanship competition, it all came down to diving pigs.
The Kiwanis Club's skit, the "Swine Olympics," consisted of costumed members of the team splashing around in an inflatable kiddie pool. It earned them the first-place trophy.
The showmanship event is the most light-hearted part of the two-day festival at Arena Park.
To accompany its "Gilligan's Island"-themed skit, the Bank of Advance barbecue team offered the judges barbecued pork steak and umbrella drinks served in coconuts to keep away the "headhunters."
Forty-four teams from five states are competing in the festival at Arena Park this year, said festival chairwoman Casey Hertenstein of the Cape Girardeau Jaycees. Nine new teams are participating this year. The teams present four types of meat — chicken, pork, ribs and brisket — in order to be eligible for the $1,000 first-place and $750 second-place prizes.
Cash awards were not given out for the showmanship event Friday night; in fact, judges for the contest are kept from the premises Friday to avoid any mingling with the competitors, Hertenstein said.
Hertenstein said certified judges are encouraged to abstain from eating much before the tasting because of the sheer amount of barbecue they're expected to eat.
"The chances of you consuming five to seven pounds of meat are pretty likely," Hertenstein said.
Marie Davie of Jackson, who is competing with her 14-year-old twin daughters as the team "Hot N' Sassy," uses different types of wood depending on what she's making. "It's quite a science," she said.
Davie called brisket the trickiest because the meat is the most difficult to break down so it's tender.
"It takes a long time to cook it just right," she said.
Tim Koch of Olive Branch, Ill., agreed that brisket was the toughest cut to get right. But it can be done. Koch's team, Lemons-Coin Jukebox Grillery, prepared the grand champion brisket last year at a competition in Jackson. The team is composed of several men who attended high school together, Koch said.
Despite the skill involved, some of the competition is outside the cooks' control.
Since every judge won't get a chance to taste every entry and judges may differ on how sweet or hot they like their barbecue, "there's a little bit of luck involved," Davie said.
Because of health department restrictions, the food prepared by competitors is not available to the public, but Mac's Smokehouse Concessions carries a menu of pulled pork sandwiches, slabs of ribs and whole pork butts for those who want a taste of something smoky.
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