Professional and amateur pit masters will be smoking their best barbecue this weekend, and, as one might expect, tickets are going fast.
The Williamsburg Pro-Am BBQ Cook Off starts Sunday at noon and runs through 4 p.m. at Jamestown Beach Event Park. The cook off is organized by the Rotary Club of the Historic Triangle.
Guests can try the best nine local barbecue purveyors have to offer as they compete for bragging rights. Event guests will vote to determine the winner.
Around 300 tickets have already been sold, and event organizer and Rotary Club member Brad Anderson said admittance will likely be capped at 500 guests. He added that if fewer than 500 tickets have been sold by Sunday, then tickets will be sold at the gate – but barbecue enthusiasts shouldn’t count on that.
Tickets for the pro-am cook off are $40 and include unlimited samples from each of the barbecue professionals, as well as two beer tickets worth one drink each.
“I guarantee you by the time you go through nine vendors you’ll be full,” Anderson said.
Additional beer tickets can be purchased on site.
With temperatures expected to be in the 90s, bottled water will be sold for $1 and complimentary water stations will be spread throughout the venue.
“We want people to drink good Billsburg beer and have fun, but on a hot day it’s probably best to drink water between the brews,” Anderson said.
In addition to Billsburg’s brews, Bud Light, Shock Top and Bold Rock Hard Cider will also be available.
Admission for children is $10. Proceeds will benefit 3e Restoration, a nonprofit that strives to end the cycles of poverty and homelessness.
Area teams of amateur smokers will also have a chance to walk away with cash prizes. A panel of 12 judges will review the offerings produced by amateur competitors.
Guests will not be able to try samples made by the amateurs, Anderson said, due to health department regulations.
However, Anderson said he hopes more amateur teams will come forward and enter by the captain’s meeting at 6 p.m. Saturday. Registration for amateur teams is $100 and includes two event tickets.
“Right now I’ve only got five teams and they’re competing for a purse of $1,000,” Anderson said. “I went and put this big purse out there and right now it’s going to be easy to get… I don’t know where these barbecue people are but I know they’re out there.”
Heat of competition
The amateur teams will arrive Saturday afternoon and begin smoking their meats on-site the night before guests arrive.
However, they began strategizing for the competition and choosing their recipes weeks in advance – and in some cases, there may be too many cooks in the kitchen.
“My one brother has forbidden me from putting Kool-Aid mix in my barbecue sauce,” competitor Andrew Langer said with a laugh, adding Kool-Aid brings a “fruity sweetness” to barbecue meats. However, Langer’s team won’t settle on a taste that’s too traditional.
“What’s great about this competition is they are very interested in your creativity, so that allows a little more experimentation,” he said.
Langer, his younger brothers Elliott and Christopher, and their friend Scott Gaines, formed the team Rochambeau’s Renegades after the street they grew up on in New York.
Langer, 47, now lives in Williamsburg and the others live in the D.C. area.
“[Elliott] in the last year has become obsessed with smoking meats, and when this thing came across our radar screen I said ‘We’ve got to do this,’” Langer said.
Teams can enter in three categories – best barbecue chicken, pork ribs and pulled pork. The winner of each category will walk away with $250.
The Renegades will be entering all three categories, and Langer said he feels optimistic about all three.
“I’ve always been proud of my ribs,” he said. “Our focus is going to be on creating the most flavorful bark possible. For us it’s creating multiple layers of flavor in that bark, a good balance of sweet, salt and spice, and a little bit of zing in our barbecue sauce.”
Langer said his team has ordered custom shirts and a flag branded with their “Rochambeau’s Renegades,” and they’re all now on the same page of the recipe book.
However, they haven’t settled everything just yet.
“We’re looking forward to it, the other big debate is about who is going to sleep out there Saturday night,” Langer said.
Participating barbecue purveyors include:
- Two Drummers Smokehouse
- Old City BBQ
- Rocco’s Smokehouse
- Red, Hot and Blue,
- Smoke Restaurant
- Suck On This BBQ
- The Scottish Pig
- Whiskey Hill BBQ
- Matchsticks BBQ Co.