Thank God for March Madness.
The marathon of basketball games provided plenty of excitement for the crazed competitors who stayed up all night -- and outside in 40 degree temperatures -- to slow-cook their pork during the inaugural Bordertown BBQ Cookoff this weekend in Clover.
"We did a lot of talking to stay awake and had a TV out here to watch the basketball games," said Scott Moses, who cooked with a team from the Clover Fire Department. "We slept a little in reclining chairs, but somebody had to be awake at all times to check on the barbecue."
Organizers are calling first Bordertown cookoff a huge success and have already started planning for next year.
Teams from across the state started arriving at the Clover Community Park at 9 a.m. on Friday to set up their cooking stations and immediately began cooking up meals for that night, said cookoff co-founder Michael Huffstetler.
"Anything from smoked brisket to cherry cobbler could have been found as each team showed off their talents to their fellow competitors," he said. "Throughout the night, cookers were pitching horseshoes and preparing their favorite barbecue for the morning judging and to serve the public. It was a great time."
Huffstetler said a large crowd turned out Saturday to test some of the best barbecue the Carolinas have to offer.
Twelve teams competed in the event sanctioned by the South Carolina Barbeque Association.
Clover native Charlie McDonald won the People's Choice award.
Michael Smith of Casey's Big Dog BBQ took first place -- and a $1,000 prize -- and Stan Klaus of Firehouse Grill came in second.
The event also raised $726 for the American Diabetes Association, said co-organizer Bobby Cook.
The second annual event is already scheduled for March 27-28, 2009 at Clover Community Park.
-- Shannon Greene, staff