Hearing his name called as a fifth-place winner garnered David McLaurin the loudest cheers and gut-stabs from his buddy’s elbows as he accepted a pig trophy for his Boston butts barbecue.
The first-time barbecue competitor won another fifth-place award for “anything but butts” at Saturday’s “Butts and Bluegrass Festival” in Clover.
It was all worth the sweat and greasy fingers.
Money raised at the event — which drew nearly 2,000 barbecue lovers — will go to the Clover Area Assistance Center, a nonprofit that provides food, health care, education and financial assistance to Clover residents. Tickets were $10 for adults and $6 for kids. Everyone received a $1 discount if they donated a non-perishable food item.
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This year, 14 competitors entered the contests.
At Adam Huth’s corner at the Clover Community Park, putting on a show for the crowd was just as much fun as watching first reactions as festival-goers took bites of the pork treat and licked their fingers.
“That’s butter, dude,” a taste-tester said.
“We call that the money muscle,” Huth responded.
The self-described amateur backyard griller, wearing a T-shirt that read “I like pig butts and I cannot lie,” came from Charlotte to the competition.
“We take the shoulder, which is usually a very tough and unappetizing piece of meat, and you cook it real low and real slow and then if you do it right, it’s juicy and moist and it becomes something beautiful.”
Loading up his barbecue gear, including a handful of signs and kitschy pig decor, was an easy task for David Wooten and his team, the “Saucy Bottom Boys,” who only drove a short distance to compete.
“We just enjoy cooking locally,” said Wooten, who wore a rubber pig mask with a hat and glasses when it wasn’t too hot. “This one is like six miles from the house.”
Justin Thompson of York shied away from saying his friends loved his cooking. They discussed Thompson, a youth baseball coach, entering a contest.
“I got volunteered,” Thompson said.
Matt Talbot of Belton, and his team “High on the Hog,” served pulled pork they cooked for nearly 10 hours, but sold out of halfway through the event on Saturday, right at noon. A handful of competitors ran out before lunchtime.
“They were disappointed that we didn’t have any left,” Talbot said.