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Jay Thom makes his own meat rub and his own barbecue sauce. But the most essential ingredient for his barbecue?
“Lots of love,” said Thom, the pitmaster for Firetower BBQ, one of 15 barbecue teams that showed up to compete Saturday during the first Butts and Bluegrass Festival in Clover.
“It doesn’t matter what you cook with or what you cook on,” maintained Thom, who hails from the town of Piedmont with his wife, Dorothy. “As long as you put lots of love into it.”
The Thoms and other teams certainly seemed to be loving the attention they were getting from hungry festival-goers who turned out to sample barbecue at the South Carolina Barbecue Association-sanctioned event at Clover Community Park.
Chris Earle, a member of the Lake Wylie Smokers, said he just seasons his barbecue the way he likes to eat it, because he knows barbecue judging can be a very subjective art.
“I don’t try to impress the judges,” said Earle who has been competing for about eight years with fellow members Tim Johnston and Marisee Kennedy. “If it tastes good to me, it’s good enough.”
Earle said they mostly do barbecue competitions for fun. “When you think that you’ve got something good, you don’t score well,” he said, while an entry that don’t seem like a winner can do well.
Organizer Lisa Thornburg said she lanned the event to bring people to Clover and help feed the hungry. It featured competitions in pork barbecue, ribs and brisket, she said.
A portion of proceeds will go to local organizations, including the Clover Area Assistance Center, Feed the Hungry Program, Girls Scout Troop 2822, Boy Scout Troop 128 and Explorer Post 18.
Barbecue competitors set up camp at the park Friday night and tended their meat throughout the night. Saturday’s entertainment included craft vendors and bluegrass music by the Flowers family of North Carolina and Southern Gospel from First United Methodist Church in Clover.
Charlie Walker, a member of the Clover Firehouse team, composed of fire department members, said his team just enjoys getting together for such events and having a good time.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Walker said of the Clover fire team, which has been doing barbecue competitions for about four years. “It’s kind of a break from everything and give us a chance to relax.”
Following are winners in the cooking competitons:
• Butts: First place, JT’s BBQ of Summerville; second place, Smokin Stacks of Aiken; third place, Bold Branch Bar.b.q Boys of Anderson; fourth place, Can’t Quit Smokin of Winnsboro; and fifth place, Up in Smoke of Rock Hill.
• Ribs: First place, Boo-daddy’s BBQ of Rock Hill; and second place, JT’s BBQ of Summerville.
• Brisket: First place, Bold Branch Bar.b.q Boys of Anderson; and second place, Lake Wylie Smokers of Lake Wylie.