Category / Cook-Off


Join us for Praise the Lard


We’re in full-on prep mode for the 26th annual Praise the Lard – Murphysboro Barbecue Cook-off. The 1-7 pit crew has been working around the clock to organize our largest ever event — we’re rolling out the welcome mat for close to 90 teams, dozens of volunteers and judges, and thousands of people from all over the world who will come to celebrate a beautiful fall weekend in Southern Illinois.

Of special interest this year is our first-ever Townsend Spice Kids’ Que. We’re accepting entries in two age categories — 7–12 and 13–15. Children can cook alone or with a friend. We’ll provide the grills {which you get to take home}, a t-shirt, charcoal, and 1.5 lbs. of hamburger for each team. Teams are responsible for condiments, seasonings, necessary tools, and garnishes. Entry fee is $30 per team and space is limited to 10 teams in each age group. Download an application and rules here.

We have close to 90 teams this year, hailing from New York to Texas. There’s always a little confusion about the barbecue during a contest. The teams are cooking for the contest only. Due to health department regulations, they’re not allowed to sell their food. They do, however, love to meet new people and you’re welcome to walk around the team tents on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday afternoon {after turn-ins are complete}, and welcome them to town. Please note that Saturday morning/early afternoon is NOT a good time to chat with teams as they are in competition mode and finishing their entries for the judges.

There will be barbecue and lots of libations available at the stand outside 17th Street and the Thursday and Friday evening events are open to the public as well. Tickets available at the door. Be sure to join us for live music at each event. After Barbed Wire is the terrific band for Thursday night and they’ll be playing inside The Warehouse.

The videos below will give you a glimpse of what goes on during contest.

Praise the Lard – 17th Street BBQ from Arthur Agency on Vimeo.

Sky Full of Bacon 21: Woodsmoke Nation from Michael Gebert on Vimeo.

Be sure to visit our Market vendors on Friday evening and all day Saturday. Blog_market_poster_2013-01

Our 17th Street crew has been working for several months to produce this event. We’re grateful to the generous sponsors who help make it all possible. Several businesses really stepped up their support this year and we are most appreciative. A special thanks to Voss Heating & Air, Silkworm, Arthur Agency, SoundCore, and Lyerla Lake Farms.

Arthur Agency is responsible for the outstanding logo and graphic design work and the t-shirts, posters, and other items were expertly printed by Silkworm, Schwebel, and the Printing Plant.

It takes a village to put together an event of this magnitude and we hope you’ll patronize and say a special thank you to the sponsors listed below. If you’d like information on how to become a sponsor or be involved in some way, please be in touch.

Praise the Lard Sponsor Poster



Memphis in May: The Most Valuable Prize

Memphis in May

Aliene and Pat Burke are our Apple City Barbecue family.
Mike and Don McLemore, Big Bob Gibson, sharing secrets.

The real prizes we take home from a barbecue competition are the lifelong friendships we form. Lots of bonding takes place before cooking and  during late nights gathered around the fire.


Top left: Linus Kim, OnCue alum, brought me a delicious bottle of Hooker’s House bourbon.
Top right: Allen Smith, Boar’s Night Out, with his Praise the Lard Grand Champion trophy.
Bottom: Luke Ray, Ken Hess, and Phillip Heern hang out from Madison Avenue to Tom Lee Park.

Linus Kim, born in Birmingham and currently living in South Korea, came to our OnCue class in April and spent the spring traveling the country and sampling more barbecue. He showed up at Memphis in May with the Party Q team from Batesville, Arkansas. Allen Smith just makes me smile. His team, Boar’s Night Out, won MBN Grand Champion at our contest in Murphysboro and he travels everywhere with the pig trophy. He even buckles it into the passenger seat of his truck and drives it around. Our 17th Street pitmaster, Phillip Heern, and Ken Hess from Big Bob Gibson bonded on the streets of New York City during the Block Party and they enjoying spending time together every chance they get.


Woody Tunnicliffe, Phillip Heern, Justin Spencer, Shane McBride, Mike Mills, Lauren Hirschberg, Johnny Keenan, and Adam Evans at the famous Gus’s Fried Chicken in Memphis.

Late night at Gus’s with the Ribdiculous BBQ boys is one of my favorite memories. I was in their booth sampling pickles, competition sauce, and hamburgers when Mike called to say he’d secured a table at Gus’s.  What you don’t see  are the 40 pieces of chicken that arrived right after we took this photo!

Mike and his nephew, Chris Mills of the Flying Pigs BBQ team, share a moment during the awards ceremony.

Mike and his nephew, Chris Mills of the Flying Pigs BBQ team,
share a moment during the awards ceremony.

As the first chapter of our book, Peace, Love, and Barbecue, proclaims: Barbecue = Friends + Family + Love. It doesn’t get any better than this. 

Read more about our Memphis in May adventures: filming The ChewLessons learned from Rocky III,The Judging,
and Danish National Team shirt exchange