Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest kicks off Wednesday – FOX13 News Memphis


MEMPHIS, Tenn. – It’s Memphis time in May World Championship BBQ Cooking Contest.

The four-day competition begins tomorrow at Liberty Park due to construction work at Tom Lee Park, where the event usually takes place.

You will need a ticket to enter. They are available online and at the doorsteps. Tickets are $13 in advance and $15 at the door.


Open doors :

  • Wednesday 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
  • Thursday from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m.
  • Friday 11 a.m. to 12 p.m.
  • Saturday 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. On-site judging – 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. World Champions Awards Ceremony – 6:30 p.m.

Free shuttles will run from downtown to South Avenue at the Early Maxwell gate on site. Shuttle hours are 4:00 p.m. until one hour after doors close each day. There are two pickup/drop-off locations downtown – one at Second St. and Exchange Ave. at the Sheraton Hotel and a second at Union Ave. and BB King Blvd. at the Peabody Hotel.

On Monday, barbecue crews and crews were working to put the finishing touches on their cooking areas, preparing to complete the backdrop for the “most prestigious barbecue competition.”

How the Memphis in May BBQ teams are preparing for the coming heat wave

Teams representing the best of barbecue who have been honing their craft for years are vying for the title of world champion and a share of the more than $140,000 in prize money.

Dozens of teams from more than 25 states and several different countries are competing this year, including a returning team from Canada after a three-year hiatus due to COVID.

The competition includes championship pork categories of ribs, shoulder, and whole hog, as well as ancillary competitions of hot wings, gravy, and “everything but pork.”

FOX13 wanted to talk to someone with serious grilling skills who has competed for years.

Heath Riles has won 74 major championships across the country and competed in Memphis in May for over 15 years. It is one of the only titles that has escaped him. Riles said he constantly tweaks his recipes to ensure that when a judge bites, it’s the best bite ever.

Memphis World Championship BBQ Cooking Contest in May: What It Takes to Become a Grill Master

It’s going to be scorching this week with temperatures in the low 90s and a heat index in the upper 90s. Highs are expected to remain near 90° through Friday, 10° above average. Isolated showers are possible Friday evening and Saturday afternoon.

Memphis officials in May said they would have medical personnel on hand in case anyone suffered a heat-related illness.

How the Memphis in May BBQ crews are preparing for the coming heatwave

Remember that unfortunately you cannot buy barbecues from the teams. They only cook for judges, team members and friends, not for the general public. Local health department regulations prohibit teams from serving barbecues to the general public.

There are barbecue vendors, as well as other food vendors who sell food to the public.

TSA issues BBQ sauce warning ahead of World BBQ Cooking Contest

And if you’re looking to bring the taste of Memphis home after the Memphis in May World Barbecue Cooking Contest, the TSA has a sassy encore for you.

Barbecue sauces are not permitted in carry-on baggage. You will need to place the sauce in your checked baggage or make other plans to get it home safely.


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