ATLANTA, Sept. 30, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The 2014 Wings Over North Georgia's Smoke-n-Thunder BBQ Classic will be the first Georgia competition to participate in the Kansas City Barbeque Society's new "Feed The Hungry" initiative. Participating competitors will donate 150 pounds of prize-winning cooked pork to local food banks and soup kitchens.
"Protein is one of the hardest things for hunger non-profits to get their hands on and their North Georgia clients deserve the best BBQ our pit masters can cook up," said Smoke-n-Thunder BBQ Classic Competition Director Randall Bowman.
Among the top national BBQ cookers scheduled to compete on October 18th and 19th is the star of TV's BBQ Pitmasters Myron Mixon. Organizers expect double the number of professional competitors to travel to Rome, Georgia for this year's Challenge. The Smoke-n-Thunder BBQ Classic is a qualifying competition for the prestigious Southern BBQ Challenge and the 60 projected pro competitors earn placement points toward that purse as well as the $18,000 in cash and awards in Rome.
"We've still got a few weeks for cooks to enter and already this will be one of the toughest fields any Georgia team will ever face," said Bowman. "When you combine BBQ with a top-rate air show like Wings Over North Georgia you've got the potential to really boost the North Georgia economy."
In addition to celebrity and top-ranked professional BBQ cookers, 2014's Smoke-n-Thunder BBQ Classic is featuring an expanded amateur division.
"The Back Yard division is to help the amateur cookers get their feet wet. It's designed for that neighbor who's always bragging his BBQ is better than yours to prove it and see how they stack up against everyone else who thinks they rock the grill," said Bowman. "The hope is that the expanded contest and prize money will bring in more local rivalries. We've got pro's coming from 1,600 miles away but the local fraternity brothers or fire chiefs mean just as much to Smoke-n-Thunder."
Professional and Back Yard BBQ contests are increasing in popularity in part because of reality TV and food shows. But because the Smoke-n-Thunder BBQ Classic is a KCBS-sanctioned competition, celebrity chefs have no built-in advantage.
"The fact that Myron Mixon is entering the contest this year will attract all the other top competitors. Smoke-n-Thunder may see double the number of cookers because everyone wants to see how they stack up with the best of the best," said KCBS-sanctioned judge Richard Brooks. "It's called blind judging so reputations are out the window. A guy who's never won a contest before or been on TV could topple the reigning superstar."
The three criteria for any KCBS-sanctioned competition are taste, tenderness and appearance. "There's no such thing as bad BBQ when you're at this level so all the cookers are trying for that extra special quality, the hard-to-define wow factor," said Brooks.
Sanctioned judges aren't the only critics whose voices count at Smoke-n-Thunder. On Saturday, October 18th – during the Smoke-n-Thunder concert series and evening air show – the public can buy tickets to taste the entries and cast a ballot for the People's Choice winner as well as pick up tips from the pros and learn more about BBQ through product demonstrations.
Along with the Smoke-n-Thunder BBQ People's Choice event Saturday, the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds are the opening act for the 3rd annual Wings Over North Georgia live concert series. Four of North Georgia's top bands will take the stage immediately after the Thunderbirds' first fall performance in the South East outside of Florida.
On Sunday, the final day of the Wings Over North Georgia Airshow, the BBQ cookers begin competing for the KCBS-sanctioned judges' votes. Professional competitors spend more than $1,000 a weekend in fees and meat but the Back Yard cooker can compete for just a few hundred dollars, another reason Smoke-n-Thunder organizer have expanded the competition this year.
"Let's face it. There aren't many competitive sports for us fat middle-aged guys to get into," said Bowman. "We can't drive NASCAR but we can get a grill and a game face on."
For more information about the Saturday's Smoke-n-Thunder concert series, BBQ competition and Wings Over North Georgia Airshow visit www.wingsovernorthgeorgia.com
Source: Wings Over North Georgia