Enquirer Herald

BBQ cookoff to aid diabetes research

CLOVER -- Bring $10 and an appetite to the Clover Community park this weekend and you'll leave with a full stomach.

Michael Huffstetler and Bobby Cook grew up in Clover, but have since moved away. They plan to return this weekend with a competition that will appeal to the town's taste buds.

They're calling it the Bordertown BBQ Cookoff.

"We always wanted to do something like this," said Huffstetler. "We're both big barbecue guys."

The competition is sanctioned and will be judged by the South Carolina Barbeque Association. About 13 teams from North and South Carolina have entered the competition and will start firing up their grills on Friday in the Clover Community Park.

Each team will be given about 100 pounds of pork to cook.

The event will open to the public from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. All-you-can-eat tickets will be $10 for adults and $5 for children.

A portion of the ticket sales from the barbecue are going to go to the American Diabetes Association.

The best cooks could walk away with big checks. First place is $1,000, second is $500 and the barbecue that gets the most votes from tasters will get $250.

While many of the teams will be from other parts of the state, one group of Clover men is planning to mix their cooking skills in hopes of producing a prize-winning barbecue recipe.

"We've got four cooks that have cooked their own barbecue before and we're going to come up with a special sauce," said Scott Moses of Clover, who is known more for his chili than barbecue thanks to his involvement with the Jaycees Annual Chili Cookoff.

Moses said the barbecue contest will be a fun event for the town.

"It's going to bring a ton of people to it," he said. "I think it's going to be a good time for the community and everybody that's cooking."

Q-2-U, the 2007 South Carolina Barbeque Association Masters Barbeque Award champion based in Lake Wylie, will compete in the Clover event to defend its state title. Mark and Renee Cieslikowski of Lake Wylie and Brian and Linda Rich of Charlotte will start their 2008 competition season close to home.

"We'll definitely be there," said Brian Rich. "This will be our first competition of the year. With the accident last year we haven't been able to travel much."

While traveling to a national competition in Georgia on Nov. 2, the Riches were involved in a wreck that left Linda with several broken bones. The driver of the other vehicle involved was killed.

Despite the incident, the Riches are prepared to compete in eight to 10 more competitions in 2008 after the Clover event.

The barbecue will be judged based on its appearance, tenderness, aroma and taste, Huffstetler said.

Also, true barbecue is only made of pork, he said.

"Just throwing something on the grill and chopping it up that's not really barbecue," he said. "Barbecue is actually only chopped pork. That's the definition of barbecue."

Sauces vary by preference, but usually fall into a variation of four categories: Vinegar and pepper, mustard, light tomato or heavy tomato.

If barbecue is presented for the competition with sauce, that's how it will be judged, Huffstetler said.

"We're not going to eat it without the sauce and taste how it's cooked and act like the sauce wasn't there," he said.

While the barbecue competition is going on, the South Carolina Horseshoe Association also will be holding a competition in the park.

When their competition is done the barbecuers hope to start tossing shoes in their own amateur competition. Entry is $10 per team or player.

The event doubles as a fundraiser for the American Diabetes Association.

"The donation is actually going to be made in my dad's name, who recently passed away from the effects of diabetes," Huffstetler said.

Huffstetler said he hopes this can become an annual tradition.

"Each year we want to make it bigger and bigger and maybe have music, entertainment and different things going on," he said.

-- John Marks of the Lake Wylie Pilot contributed