NEWBERRY – Get your taste buds ready for the City of Newberry’s twelfth annual Pork in the Park, which will take place downtown on Saturday, April 21 from 11 a.m. until 3:30 p.m.
A total of 16 teams are competing for this year’s grand prize and range from newcomers to the festival to long-time participants.
The three categories during this year’s event include Boston butt, chicken and ribs. Sanctioned by the Southern Barbecue Network, the judges for the event are primarily looking for appearance, taste, aroma, tenderness and texture.
Mary Alex Kopp, tourism and events coordinator for the City of Newberry said the judges have been certified through a training process and attend many events similar to Pork in the Park.
“Their scoring ranges from a low of one to a high of 10 points, with increments of .1 points for each category,” she said.
Judging will take place at the Firehouse Conference Center, with double blind judging. Awards will be given out at 3:15 p.m. with first, second and third place for each category, as well as the grand champion.
Cookers in the competition will arrive downtown to Memorial Park the day before around 3 p.m. and will be cooking overnight through the next day. Kopp said downtown residents and visitors should expect the area to be smoky and smell of barbecue.
Part of Main Street, the block surrounding Community Hall and Memorial Park, will be closed after lunchtime on Friday, April 20 and remain closed throughout the event Saturday.
While most of the event is centered around Memorial Park and the Community Hall area, this year Kopp said the event area extends up Main Street to The Corner Scoop.
“The Corner Scoop is celebrating their first birthday that day and so we partnered with them on the children’s activities we have offered this year,” she said.
Kopp said the business’ marketing coordinator contacted her and said they wanted to have somewhat of a ‘block party’ in front of their location that day, to celebrate, and she said it only made sense to extend the event area and partner together for activities for children for the day.
More details of plans for The Corner Scoop’s birthday celebration can be found on their Facebook page.
Free inflatables and activities for children during Pork in the Park will be located on Main Street between Caldwell and College Streets. An interactive map with all activities can be found by visiting the event’s website, www.porkinthepark.com and clicking on the interactive map under the ‘About Us’ section.
Differing from last year, Kopp said sample tickets for the event will not be available for purchase this year. However, event patrons are welcome to purchase the different types of items being sold by vendors. Donations will also be taken for those wishing to donate to Relay for Life.
In addition to the smell of barbecue filling the streets of Newberry, there will also be live music in Memorial Park Saturday to include Jack Roper and the Weatherman Band starting at 11 a.m. who performed during the 2015 Oktoberfest. Starting at 1:30 p.m., Jim Leblanc Bluegrass will be performing. While the event typically includes bluegrass music, Kopp said they wanted to add a little more variety to the music this year, with both performers playing different types of music.
The Newberry County Chamber of Commerce will have a beer wagon situated again this year in Memorial Park. Liz MacDonald, administrator of the chamber said they will have Budweiser on tap and will charge $4 per cup. The wagon will be open throughout the event. An ID station will be manned by members of the Newberry County Coalition on Underage Drinking.
Competitors for this year’s Pork in the Park are:
• Biggy Boys BBQ
• Smell My Smoke BBQ (new)
• Steelhorse Smokehouse
• Crossroads BBQ (new)
• Flyin J Smokers (new)
• Doko Smoke (new)
• HB’s BBQ
• TKO BBQ (new)
• Backdraft BBQ (Competition Only)
• Butts & Thighs BBQ (Competition Only)
• Chicka-Pigga-Moo (Competition Only)
• Smokey D’s BBQ (Competition Only)
• Hey Good Buddy (Competition Only)
• Sessions BBQ (Competition Only)
• The Girls of Steelhorse (Competition Only)
Because the event is SBN sanctioned, Kopp said the city gives their competitors the option of competing and selling or solely being a competition team. The fee to participate is the same whether selling or solely competing.
“A lot of these teams travel a circuit this time of year and compete not just to win individual trophies from individual events, but competing for points over the course of the year for the Southern Barbecue Network,” Kopp said.
Several return competitors will be back this year, Kopp said, with some of those participating being new to the city’s event.
Volunteers are still needed, with the most needed on Friday, April 20, Kopp said as cookers are arriving.
“Volunteers are needed to watch barricades and help teams get set up that Friday,” Kopp said.
Those interested in volunteering should contact Kopp at 803-321-1015 prior to the event. While volunteers are needed prior to the actual event, Kopp said the Southern Barbecue Network occasionally needs volunteers the day of to help.
More information on the event can be located online at www.newberryporkinthepark.com.