FLORENCESC — George Ray of the Monkey Bottom Boys took first place at the 11th Annual BBQ Festival.
Ray’s team won first place at the Grill Cookoff hosted by Youth Mentors of the Pee Dee.
Second Place: Philip Miles, Tail Gater Hater.
Third Place: Ken Hilliard, Blazin’ Bullets Barbecue.
Fourth place, Phil Mason, Fallout BBQ.
Fifth place, Jason Singletary, Smoke Central.
The festival was part of a two-day event behind Palmetto Peddlers on Darlington Street, which began on Friday night with an Anything Butt Contest. On Saturday, the teams competed against each other at the grill cookoff. Eleven competitors, all from South Carolina, tried their hand at cooking barbecue and ribs.
The BBQ Cook-Off is one of the primary fundraising opportunities provided by the Pee Dee’s youth mentors to help the organization continue to provide services to local children.
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For Friday night’s Anything Butt Contest, teams could make their favorite dish out of anything they wanted except crickets,” said Joey Edwards. Edwards is director of the Youth Mentors of the Pee Dee.
Teams competed in one of two divisions: sweet or savory. Winners were David Graham from Papa D’s Barbecue sweet division and Philip Miles from Tail Gater Hater savory division.
The food of choice for half the field was macaroni and cheese. There was Crunchy Brisket Mac and Cheese, Spicy Mac and Cheese with a kick that included jalapeno peppers; Mac and Cheese with smoked beef and assorted cheeses and real bacon chips. Items also included shrimp and grits, chili beans, sausage dip, and for those with a sweet tooth, there was banana pudding, peanut brittle, and cookies.
Eric Jenkins of Beards, Butts and Brew said this is his second participation in the Pee Dee youth mentors event. He’s from Conway. His grill was based on vinegar.
For Friday night’s competition, David Graham prepared a homemade peanut brittle, Buddies Nutty Brittle, using his mother’s recipe. His team was Papa D’s BBQ of Sumter.
Graham said his grill is a sweet vinegar base.
“We’re in the south,” he said.
Graham said he’s been cooking barbecues for about 52 years. His assistant, Kameron Miller, said he started helping Graham when he was 5 years old.
Jason Singletary of Lake City, a builder by trade, said he just enjoys cooking as a hobby. He made banana pudding for Friday. He said he started competing around 2013.
The Slinging Meat Team prepared the Spicy Mac and Cheese. It was Josh Howle’s brew from Florence.
Malcolm Cook said one of Friday night’s favorites was the Crunchy Brisket Mac and Cheese.
Bobby Floyd, a member of the Youth Mentor’s Board for about 30 years, said he and Edwards have worked together on this event over the years. He said it might have been his idea, but it’s Edwards who keeps it going.
Ben Church said everything he tried was good on Friday night, but he particularly liked the crunchy brisket mac and cheese. He attended the event for the first time.
Bobby Floyd said he didn’t taste anything bad at Friday night’s competition, but he particularly liked the shrimp and grits. He planned to come back on Saturday to try the barbecue.
The Spicy Mac and Cheese was one of his favorite dishes of the evening.
Diane and Sam Altman from Timmonsville enjoyed the shrimp and grits and chili beans.
Julian Marsh, from Florence, said he attended the Youth Mentors event for the first time on Friday.
The South Carolina Barbecue Association (SCBA) judges the selected division winners and announces them on Saturday.
The public was able to taste the barbecue on Saturday from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm before the jury announced the winners. SCBA judges determined who took home trophies and cash prizes.
“The Pee Dee BBQ Festival Youth Mentors is a South Carolina Barbecue Association sanctioned event,” said Joey Edwards. “These people travel from event to event to earn points towards the state championship.”
All proceeds from the event benefited the Pee Dee’s youth mentors.
Youth Mentors of the Pee Dee is a United Way organization with a mission to improve the lives of youth in the area through mentoring. Youth mentors help fill the void in a child’s life when one or more of the child’s parents are absent. Volunteers typically spend two to three hours a week with their mentees.
“We work with single parent children and match them with a mentor with similar interests,” Edwards said. He said with the funds raised, the organization will be able to reach more young people who need its services.