The sixth annual Step Up for Soldiers Backyard BBQ Cook-off will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at Carolina Beach Lake Park, with more than 25 teams competing.
Guests will pay a dollar per taste to sample and cast their votes for the People’s Choice Award. A panel of judges from the N.C. Barbecue Society will award first, second and third place, with the People’s Choice and first-place winner taking home a box of engraved grilling tools.
Step Up For Soldiers was founded in 2004 by Tom Russell, whose goal was to build wheelchair-accessible ramps for two local National Guard Soldiers who had lost their legs during their tours of duty. Since that simple beginning, the foundation has grown to support members of all five branches of the military with everything from counseling to home modifications to financial support.
Step up for Soldiers has partnered with the N.C. Barbecue Society (NCBS) and last year, Step Up sent 14 military veterans to the NCBS Boot Camp at the society’s Winston-Salem campus. The veterans and fellow campers were instructed by North Carolina’s premier pit masters in how to cook eastern North Carolina-style whole hogs, western North Carolna-style shoulders and Boston butts, chicken, pork ribs, beef brisket, pork tenderloin, beef prime rib and whole wild fish. All those who participate in the boot camp are also certified as NCBS judges for statewide competitions.
Team Southard, which is made up of two of the veterans who attended the boot camp last year, will be among the competitors this year, as well as returning champions Low and Slow BBQ.
In addition to the barbecue teams, there will be a food and beer tent with burgers, hot dogs from Trolly Stop, chowder from Michael’s Seafood and a variety of snacks from the Snack Wagon. Unused tasting tickets can be redeemed for the same dollar amount at the food tent.
The family-friendly event features live music by Massive Grass and Kenny Reeves and Trainwreck, and a kid’s zone with face painting and bouncy houses.
“Many veterans groups will be on hand for those who are seeking resources or are interested in volunteering,” said organizer Lisa Ritter.
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