High on the Hog: NC’s Whole Hog State ChampionshipThis year, the N.C. Whole Hog Barbecue State Championship hits Raleigh on September 27-28. It’s a featured part of the International Bluegrass Music Association’s (IBMA) Wide Open Bluegrass Festival. The North Carolina Pork Council (NCPC) sponsors and sanctions the state championship cook-off, oversees team qualification, and selects certified judges. NCPC is headquartered in Raleigh, where it supports and represents the state’s pork-producing industry.
The Wide Open Bluegrass Festival will bring more than 60 of the nation’s leading bluegrass acts to perform in downtown Raleigh at the Convention Center, the Red Hat Amphitheater, the Duke Energy Center for Performing Arts and on various stages scattered throughout downtown. Proceeds from the barbecue sales following the cooking championship will go to Inter-Faith Food Shuttle (IFFS) along with a contribution of up to $10,000 to the IBMA Foundation.
Over the last six months of competitive cooking, local contests have attracted an estimated 100,000 barbecue lovers, mostly across Eastern North Carolina. Around 30 teams typically qualify for the finals, based on criteria used by the Pork Council. NCPC has also announced the lineup of judges who will engage in both the blind tasting and on-site judging that leads to the choice of a champion. The blind-tasting judges are Anna Laurel of WTVD-TV, Chef Jason Smith of 18 Seaboard restaurant, NCPC President David Herring of Hog Slat, Inc. and syndicated bluegrass radio personality, Cindy Baucom. The on-site judges, who are certified by NCPC and score competing teams on a wide range of criteria beyond meat taste, are Pat Adams of Snow Hill, Lubin Prevatt of Raleigh, Keith Fuller of Fair Bluff, and Peter Oser of Holly Ridge. Blind tasting results and on-site judging tabulations are combined to determine the cook-off winners.
As if this wasn’t enough, there’s a separate Showmanship contest, which judges cooking teams on their thematic presentation and decoration, which goes down on the 27th around 7 p.m.