Pigs may not have flown, but plenty of tents did at last year's Memphis in May contest in Memphis, Tenn.
The barbecue contest suffered heavy downpours, and the barbecue site was evacuated temporarily because of a tornado, but that didn't stop a North Augusta barbecue-cooking team from having a good time.
"It was horrible," said Cindy McDaniel, a member of the Smoke Shack barbecue team, which includes her husband, Scott, and her father, George Houghton. "Our tent was destroyed, and the people beside us - their tent was on top of our trailer."
Smoke Shack represented Columbia County in the revered Memphis In May event, the most prestigious barbecue-cooking contest in the country.
The team placed in the county's Veterans Day Barbecue Cookoff last year. Since the cook-off's overall winners, Pig Pounda Kappa, already had earned a spot at Memphis In May with a previous win, the honor of representing the county fell to the McDaniels.
The team was overjoyed at the chance to compete against the best barbecuers in the nation, and were only a little dismayed by the foul weather, McDaniel said.
"It was exciting and scary at the same time," she said. "We were at our site, and we kept hearing a noise and wondering what it was. It was sirens warning everyone about a tornado. People then came by and told us we had to evacuate."
McDaniel and her family sought shelter beneath a bridge for the next two hours. When they arrived back at the Memphis In May site, she said nearly all the other teams continued to cook and so did she.
She said the tornado did less damage than their butcher.
"We when bought our hog, we didn't unwrap it," McDaniel said. "We bought it from a meat-packing company (in Memphis), and when we got it back to our site someone had cut out half of the ribs."
Despite the bad luck, Smoke Shack competed in the whole-hog portion of the contest and finished 16th out of nearly 80 teams.
"We weren't disappointed at all, especially with a half a hog and no tent," McDaniel said. "We thought we did pretty good."
Smoke Shack will compete again in the Veterans Day Barbecue Cookoff on Saturday at the Columbia County Fairgrounds on Columbia Road. The competition will be from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The day will commemorate the Korean War and feature children's rides, arts and crafts, a car show, a live performance by Shiloh between 4 and 6 p.m. and an amateur barbecue-cooking contest in addition to the regional Memphis In May event.
Hoping for the chance to represent the county again at Memphis In May, McDaniel said she plans to be in Tennessee next spring regardless of the outcome.
"Even if we don't get an entry, my husband said we're going back," she said. "We had a great time, despite all the mess we got into."
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