‘Praise the Lard’ BBQ Cook-Off kicks off in Murphysboro Thursday

The Praise the Lard BBQ festival kicked off in Murphysboro, Ill. today.
Published: Sep. 22, 2022 at 6:37 AM CDT|Updated: Sep. 23, 2022 at 5:30 AM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

MURPHYSBORO, Ill. (KFVS) - An annual competition is back in action in Murphysboro.

The 35th annual Praise the Lard Murphysboro Barbecue Cook-Off kicks off on Thursday, September 22 through Saturday, September 24.

The cook-off is held in a lot across the street from 17th Street Barbecue, also the organizer of the event.

The contest starts off Thursday with who has the best fish and wings.

The winner will be announced at 9 p.m., but before this, the public can enjoy a fish fry at 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 at the door.

Teams will then compete for more than $25,000 in prize money and trophies in three categories: whole hog, pulled pork and pork rib.

Teams can cook in one or both MBN and KCBS contests.

Judging takes place all day Saturday, with the awards ceremony at 6 p.m.

In addition to the barbecue cook-off, there is a steak cook-off on Friday and bloody Mary contest on Saturday.

Barbecue competitors from all over the U.S. come to the cook-off.

“My dad was always so proud of what this contest grew into,” said Amy Mills, Owner of 17th Street Barbecue and event Organizer. “It really is a jewel on the competition circuit.”

Mills says her father Mike Mills paved the way for this highly regarded BBQ competition.

Mike Mills was the founder of 17th Street Barbecue and widely known as a legendary pit master.

“My dad Mike Mills and a group of his friends started this contest 35 years ago as an economic driver for the city of Murphysboro,” said Mills. “And since that time thousands of people have enjoyed coming to Murphysboro, competing in our contest, serving as judge, coming just to see the sights.”

One of those teams competing this weekend is the 3 taxi guys. They turned an old taxi cab into their prized hog cooker.

“It’s a 1978 checked Marathon, that was in my fleet in Atlanta till it had 900,000 miles on it,” explained Ricki Bobby Hewatt of 3 taxi guys. “We put it in the junk yard for 15 years and then resurrected it as the cabique. So it’s the 3 taxi guys, the cabique, we think is the most unique smoker in the world.”

Hewatt says they keep coming back year after year to compete in the Murphysboro BBQ Cook-Off.

“We do Memphis in May which is the world championship, we do this because this is a premier event, Mike Mills was a mentor and a friend of ours, we know everybody,” said Hewatt. “Amy and Lori and all the people here that do such a great job. They’re our friends we love them.”

Their love for barbecue has 3 guys taxi hoping to bring home another award this weekend.

“This year we hope to win the whole thing, but you never know we can win it al or we can come in last, either way we have fun,” said Hewatt

As the cook-off tradition continues, Amy Mills is keeping her father’s saying alive, with the high level of competition expected this weekend.

“It’s always been known if you can win in Murphysboro, you can win anywhere,” said Mills

The public can enjoy the contest celebrating everything barbeque with the Grand Champion meal on Friday at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are $27.

Live music and street dance starts at 6 p.m. with Honey & Tar followed by Jungle Dogs at 9:30 p.m.

Saturday kicks off at 10 a.m. with the Budweiser Lucky Beer Toast and Salute to Mike Mills, followed by live music while judging takes place.