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Blues, BBQ a hit
0923 LD Blues and BBQ2
Brenda Meteyor and A Touch of Class get the crowd revved up Saturday night during Blues and BBQ in downtown Hinesville Saturday night. - photo by Photo by Lawrence Dorsey

Blues and BBQ winners

• Best barbecue overall:  Smokin’ Pig
• Best chicken:  Smokin’ Pig
• Best pork:  Wild Hog
• Best beef:  Smokin' Pig
• Best ribs:  Smokin’ Pig
• People’s choice award:  Smokin’ Pig

For more pictures from Saturday, click here.

Last Saturday’s Blues and BBQ was a laid-back, casual jam fest in downtown Hinesville. Hundreds of visitors wandered between barbecue tents and trailers and settled into lawn chairs for sultry and swinging musicians as the sun went down. Eventgoers tapped their toes to Brenda Meteyor and A Touch of Class, The Eddie Kirkland Band and Eric Culberson throughout the evening.
Blues and BBQ, which was sponsored by the Hinesville Area Arts Council, opened with a barbecue cook-off between participating vendors. Smokin’ Pig BBQ of Richmond Hill nearly swept the competition, winning the top prizes for its chicken, beef brisket and ribs, as well as the best overall and people’s choice trophies.
The subtle irony of not winning in the pork category wasn’t lost on proprietor Kevin Fabre, who chuckled at the thought. That trophy went to Wild Hog BBQ.
Fabre is almost a veteran of the cook-off, though, having competed for three years. “I won best beef and chicken in 2008,” Fabre said. He’s been cooking barbecue for 15 years, and says the secret is to be consistent with the source of that flavorful smoke — oak wood.
“It’s plentiful here,” he said, so it makes sense to avoid straying from the stately tree.
Another secret weapon in the Smokin’ Pig arsenal is the sauce. The recipe comes from Fabre’s Uncle Sparks, who is also the namesake for the restaurant’s mascot, Sparky.
Smokin’ Pig’s competitors on Saturday included Vann’s, which served a sizeable crowd over the course of the evening at its tent. Vann’s head chef Chris Daniels and his assistant chef Tonya Jeffers stayed busy with smoking and frying their dishes, which included barbecue shrimp.
Jeffers said experience helps ensure good service to a line that doesn’t seem to end — as does patience. “You just have to be patient and go with the flow,” she said. “If you know what you’re doing, you should be OK.”
New faces in the cook-off this year were Savannah smokers Raymond Richardson and Eldridge Robinson. The line grew even as their chicken, ribs and fried fish were dished out steadily. As chief smoker for the team, Richardson dished out his tested formula for smoking meat to perfection. “You’ve got to keep the flame going, and cook the chicken legs and thighs for 4 to 5 hours,” he said. “They’ll cook all the way to the bone.”
Richardson is an old pro at the smoking game — he boasts 25 years in front of a pit — but the competition business is just taking off for Robinson and himself.
“This is our first competition,” Robinson said. “We didn’t win, but people have told us they really like our barbecue.”
He estimated they sold about 40 pounds of chicken and 25 pounds of ribs, at least. “The crowd’s been nice and steady,” he said.
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