Category / Cook-Off


Praise the Lard 2015 Events

PraiseTheLardEvents2015_25In addition to the barbecue cooking itself, Praise the Lard Murphysboro Barbecue Cook-off is a three-day celebration with a variety of events, live music, and vendors. The 17th Street crew works all year to produce the weekend and we rely on many sponsors and volunteers who work tirelessly alongside us.

PraiseTheLardEvents2015_02Ryan Maglich, Chris Pritchard, and Phillip Heern. These three, and a few others not pictured, direct the set-up and tear down. Tents, banners, signage, lights, outdoor bar, stage, and anything that needs to be moved with the forklift.

PraiseTheLardEvents2015_06If you’re a judge, team, sanctioning organization, or sponsor, you communicated with Sammi Graff at some point over the past year. She works on some aspect of the cook-off all throughout the year, and she’s the master juggler of the details. You are a superstar, Sammi!

PraiseTheLardEvents2015_05Becky Streuter, our catering manager, produced the Fish Fry and the Grand Champion Buffet, our two delicious evening events.

PraiseTheLardEvents2015_03Personality plus. Kyla Silkening, Melanie Cappiocoi, and Steph Meyer ran the outside bar.

PraiseTheLardEvents2015_04Sandy Schenk and Renee Rodewald skillfully tended the Warehouse bar.

PraiseTheLardEvents2015_01Shane Walker worked in our Marion, Illinois, restaurant for several years, before moving back to Georgia to be closer to his family. For the past several years, he’s driven up for the weekend to run our merchandise tent. We love welcoming you home, Shane!

PraiseTheLardEvents2015_07Jen Graeff and Tammy Caldwell were indispensable this weekend. Thank you, ladies!

PraiseTheLardEvents2015_09Murphysboro Key Club members volunteer each year during our evening events.

PraiseTheLardEvents2015_10They help in the kitchen …

PraiseTheLardEvents2015_11… and serve food. In addition to earning community service hours, they gain valuable event experience and we’re very proud of the way they help welcome people to Murphysboro.

PraiseTheLardEvents2015_12A long-standing tradition is the Crimson Pride marching band performing on Friday afternoon.

PraiseTheLardEvents2015_08 PraiseTheLardEvents2015_13 PraiseTheLardEvents2015_14 PraiseTheLardEvents2015_15

PraiseTheLardEvents2015_21On Thursday and Friday evenings we have a Fish Fry and a Grand Champion Buffet, designed for our local friends, sponsors, and judges. Our visiting teams and judges always remark about the way our community embraces the cook-off and welcomes our guests.

PraiseTheLardEvents2015_16The line is long and it starts early. It moves pretty quickly, though, and people are all smiles, because they know what awaits them inside.

PraiseTheLardEvents2015_17Sheila and Jim Stewart are the smiling faces our guests encounter at the welcome counter as they check in.

PraiseTheLardEvents2015_18For over 20 years on this Thursday night, Abe Keene has fried mountains of fish. Here he’s pictured with his sister Robin Keene, and his niece, Paula and Tim Lee.


PraiseTheLardEvents2015_20This year we had a record crowd and we went through 570 pounds of fish.

PraiseTheLardEvents2015_22A nod to history. Teams and judges enjoyed searching for familiar faces in these photo collages.

PraiseTheLardEvents2015_23Becky Streuter and Sandy Marks designed this lovely buffet station for Friday night.

PraiseTheLardEvents2015_24We’re the number one seller of Red Hook in the state of Illinois and we are very grateful for their support of our events. Thanks to Matt Alfredson for decorating and for the kegs of Red Hook we poured each evening!


PraiseTheLardEvents2015_27Tina, Brian, and Alex Roberts with Denise and Brad Etherton.

PraiseTheLardEvents2015_28J.T. Jenkins from the MisPits team.

PraiseTheLardEvents2015_30Hunter Neef and Brandon Graeff checking out the barbecue.

PraiseTheLardEvents2015_31Kay Lirely and Katherine Twenhafel have long been cook-off supporters.

PraiseTheLardEvents2015_32 PraiseTheLardEvents2015_33

PraiseTheLardEvents2015_34Commanding the stage and warming up the crowd as the opening act for Murphy 500.


PraiseTheLardEvents2015_35This is the midway, packed with people visiting teams on Friday night.

PraiseTheLardEvents2015_36Murphy 500 is a popular band with Murphysboro roots. They’ve recorded in Nashville, and have a strong regional following. They drew a huge crowd Friday night.

PraiseTheLardEvents2015_29Team work makes the dream work. Mike’s signature is on every detail of of the weekend. He’s so proud to welcome teams and judges to Murphysboro.

Praise the Lard Cook OffIn addition to our staff and volunteers, these local and national businesses the immense support necessary to produce an event of this magnitude. We incredibly grateful to all of them and we hope you’ll say “thank you” by considering them as you do business.

“The Cook-off is great for Murphysboro as a town. And the only reason we are here, 28 years later, is because of the generosity of the community. The City of Murphysboro puts unlimited resources at our fingertips. The sponsors, competitors and all the volunteers come together to make this all possible and create this special stop on the barbecue circuit.” ~Mike Mills

Mark your calendars NOW for 2016. It’s always the third weekend AFTER Labor Day, so next year’s dates are September 22-24, 2016.

Stay tuned for photos and stories about the Kids’ Que, Steak Cook-off, and more. For full cook-off results and photos, click here.

All photos ©Troy Brown. Thanks, Troy, for expertly capturing the spirit of our weekend.

Follow our adventures in real time on Instagram and Twitter.
See lots of entertaining and barbecue ideas on our Pinterest boards.
And we post fun things on Facebook, too! 


2015 Praise the Lard Cook-off Winners

One of the most anticipated competitions on the barbecue circuit, the Murphysboro Barbecue Cook-Off, hosted by 17th Street Barbecue, took place September 24-26. 71 teams from 17 states set up camp around the 17th Street Barbecue Warehouse. Over 200 Judges, volunteers and ambassadors traveled from 15 states. Named by Food & Wine magazine as one of America’s top 20 barbecue cities, Murphysboro and 17th Street Barbecue are prime barbecue destinations.CookOffWinners_AwardsCrowdCrowds gathered for awards and listened to music from Fiddler Rick and the Bourbon Boys.

CookOffWinners_AwardsTableWinning teams receive original trophies of one-of-a-kind hand blown glass apples crafted by the Douglass School Art Place in Murphysboro, exclusively commissioned for the event. The two Grand Champions each received a chainsaw-carved pig from Bear Tracks in Brownsville, Illinois. In addition to trophies and bragging rights, over $25,000 in prize money is awarded.

“Our contest is like a slice of pure Americana. This is our opportunity to showcase the very best of Murphysboro and Southern Illinois to a wonderful group of people from all over the world,” says Mike Mills, one of the event’s original founders. “This is a field of fierce competitors. If you can win here, you can win at Memphis in May or the American Royal. In fact, we have a number of World Grand Champions in this field.”

CookOffWinners_MikeOnStageMike starting off the awards ceremony by thanking the teams, judges, volunteers, 17th Street crew, and sponsors who make this production possible. It takes a village.

“The Cook-off is great for Murphysboro as a town,” Mills explained. “And the only reason we are here, 28 years later, is because of the generosity of the community. We want to thank the sponsors, whether they’re companies or individuals, competitors and all the volunteers. There are so many people that come together to make this all possible and create this special stop on the barbecue circuit.”

First up are the ancillary contest winners and special awards.

CookOffWinners_FirstPlaceWingsTR’s Up In Smoke swept both the fish and wings contests on Thursday evening.

CookOffWinners_FishFryAbeWe were proud to present Abe Keene with a special volunteer award. Abe and his family have cooked the fish for our fish fry for over 20 years. Their support and friendship are immeasurable treasures.

CookOffWinners_GoldenTicketWinnerKari Luke won 1st place in the World Food Championships Dessert Super Qualifier with her strawberry pie.

CookOffWinners_FirstPlaceKidsQueTownsend Spice Kids’ Que Grand Champions: You’ve Got The Wong Guy
Ava Wong and Madison Guy

CookOffWinners_FirstPlaceBloodyBrews Brother’s Tap Room Bloody Mary Contest: Lisa Keller

CookOffWinners_AppleOfOurEyeApple of Our Eye: Wil-Be-Que

CookOffWinners_FirstPlaceSteakOur First-Ever SCA Steak Cook-off Grand Champion: Joe Stump

2015 marked the eighth year of a dual-sanctioned event with teams cooking both the Memphis Barbecue Network and Kansas City Barbecue Society contests. Of the 71 competing teams, 14 were MBN sanctioned teams, 52 KCBS teams and 11 teams cooked in both categories.

Following are the Memphis Barbecue Network and Kansas City Barbecue Society category winners and Grand Champions.

CookOffWinners_FirstPlaceRibs1MBN First Place Ribs: Sweet Swine O’ Mine

CookOffWinners_FirstPlaceShoulderMBN 1st Place Shoulder: Victory Lane

CookOffWinners_FirstPlaceHogMBN 1st Place Hog: Victory Lane

CookOffWinners_GrandChampion1MBN Grand Champion: Victory Lane

CookOffWinners_FirstPlaceChickenKCBS 1st Place Chicken: Posey County Cookers

CookOffWinners_FirstPlaceRibs2KCBS 1st Place Ribs: Iowa Smokey D’s

CookOffWinners_FirstPlacePorkKCBS 1st Place Pork: Victory Lane

CookOffWinners_FirstPlaceBrisketKCBS 1st Place Brisket: Quau

CookOffWinners_ReserveGrandChampionKCBS Reserve Grand Champion: Q-Bones

CookOffWinners_GrandChampion2KCBS Grand Champion: Gil Taft of Gilly’s BBQ

CookOffWinners_WinnerOleHickoryPitMike Corso is the lucky winner of the Ole Hickory Pits Ace MM raffle.

Full results:

Memphis Barbecue Network
Grand Champion

Victory Lane BBQ
Pass Down: 3 Taxi Guys

5) Sweet Swine O’ Mine
4) Wil-Be-Que
2) Ninja Pigs
1)Sweet Swine O’ Mine

5) Moe Cason BBQ
4) Sweet Swine O’ Mine
3) Party Q
2) Wil-Be-Que
1) Victory Lane BBQ

5) Sweet Swine O’ Mine
4) Party Q
3) The Flying Pigs
2) 3 Taxi Guys
1) Victory Lane BBQ

Kansas City Barbecue Society
Grand Champion:
Gilly’s BBQ

Reserve Grand Champion:

9) Boss Hawg BBQ
8) 270 Smokers
7) Iowa Smokey D’s BBQ
6) Quau
5) Victory Lane BBQ
4) Uncle Kenny’s BBQ
3) A Boy and His BBQ
2) Fowl Butt BBQ
1) Posey County Cookers

10) Gilly’s BBQ
9) Carbondale Pork District
8) A Boy & His BBQ
7) One2bbq
5) Big O’ Dang O’
4) Q-Bones BBQ
3) KC Beer Smoke Shack
2) Wild Boar Smokers
1) Iowa Smokey D’s BBQ

10) One2bbq
9) Quau
8) Yellow River BBQ
7) Fowl Butt BBQ
6) Hickory Pit Stop
5) Q-Bones
4) 270 Smokers
3) Gilly’s BBQ
2) Backdraft BBQ
1) Victory Lane BBQ

10) Victory Lane BBQ
9) Two Butts and a Ham
8) RJ’s Bowtie BBQ
7) Q-Bones
6) The BBQ Sherpas
5) Gilly’s BBQ
4) Too Big to Fail BBQ
3) Bull Rush BBQ
2) Backdraft BBQ
1) Quau

KCBS Top 10 Overall
10) Uncle Kenny’s BBQ
9) Yellow River BBQ
8) 270 Smokers
7) Backdraft BBQ
6) A Boy & His BBQ
5) Quau
4) Victory Lane BBQ
3) Iowa Smokey D’s
2) Q-Bones
1) Gilly’s BBQ

Apple of Our Eye

Townsend Spice Kids’ Que
3rd Place Meat Head Maddie’s – John Voss and Madison Voss
2nd Place Backdraft BBQ – Ethan Grob
1st Place You’ve Got the Wong Guy – Ava Wong and Madison Guy

 World Food Championships Dessert Super Qualifier
3) Porkmafia
2) Blazin’ Blues BBQ
1) Sugarfire Smokehouse

SCA Steak Cook-off
10) Alex Schenck
9) Bryan Ropollo
8) Terry Reinhardt
7) Laura Butler
6) Jim Hughett
5) Kenny Nadeau
4) Jeff Ellison
3) Johnny Joseph
2) Ryan Grob
1) Joe Stump

Brews Brothers Taproom Best Bloody Mary
1) Lisa Keller
2) 3 Taxi Guys  

Fish Contest
1st Place: TR’s Up In Smoke
Wings Contest
1st Place: TR’s Up In Smoke

Mark your calendars NOW for 2016. It’s always the third weekend AFTER Labor Day, so next year’s dates are September 22-24, 2016.

Next week, we’ll publish photos and stories about the Kids’ Que, Steak Cook-off, and other events. Stay tuned!

Photos © Troy Brown.

Follow our adventures in real time on Instagram and Twitter.
See lots of entertaining and barbecue ideas on our Pinterest boards.
And we post fun things on Facebook, too!