Youngest team does well at Blue Ridge BBQ & Music Festival

Published 6:04 pm Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Madison Arrowood (left) and Allison Herrmann, the Hogs & Kisses team, take two second-place spots at the Blue Ridge BBQ & Music Festival, June 8-9. (photo by Paula Roberts)

Festival organizers aren’t supposed to have favorites, but they all admit it was hard not to be pulling for Hogs & Kisses at the winners ceremony for the 19th Annual Blue Ridge BBQ & Music Festival.
Hogs & Kisses, the youngest team ever to enter the event, consists of two 14-year-old girls, Allison Herrmann and Madison Arrowood, who participated in every possible category in the cookoff that annually draws some of the most experienced cook teams in the country.
Kansas City Barbecue Society rules require that to be considered for the championship, a team must enter four required categories: pork shoulder, pork ribs, beef brisket and chicken. In addition, at Tryon there are three optional categories: whole hog, Anything But (any entrée but the four required categories), and dessert. Only a few teams undertake the daunting task of whole hog, which means exactly what it says: put an entire hog on a slow fire and cook it—not only until it is done—but until it is deliciously edible. But Herrmann and Arrowood did it.
And when the first category, dessert, was announced, they were in second place. While they were still in shock over that, they heard they took second place in the Whole Hog competition. There was a standing ovation, but according to Herrmann’s dad, Justin Hembree, they didn’t even know it. They were just trying to grasp what they had accomplished—going up against the best of the best in the toughest category in their first outing and coming home winners.
Hembree and Arrowood’s father, Jeff Arrowood, Tryon’s chief of police, assisted the girls. But they did nothing more than cut meat and stoke fires. All of the cooking decisions and the hands-on preparation were the girls’ responsibility.
Hembree said they made a point of doing everything in plain view, so no one would suspect that it was actually the dads doing the work. Other cookers were stopping by to wish the girls good luck, and they could easily tell who was doing the cooking.
Asked what was most exciting for the girls, Hembree didn’t hesitate: “It was the Whole Hog,” he said. “They were intimidated at first, but then they got caught up in the enormity of what they were doing – the rubbing the spices on, the injecting, dealing with the Pig Police (contest officials who oversee the preparation of each hog) and then the building of the boxes to take to the judges. They loved it!”
According to Hembree, the only disappointing thing was that the judges didn’t seem to like the orange glaze they made for their chicken and rib entries. But that disappointment didn’t last long.
Hembree said they’re already looking forward to the next outing, which may be the first ever Spruce Pine contest in July. They also plan to enter at the Fourth Annual Future Legends of BBQ competition to defend the championship they won last year that launched their competitive careers. This year’s event will be held on Oct. 13 at Camp Mondamin in Tuxedo, N.C.
And what will they do with their winnings?
“Well,” Hembree said, “I heard them talking about saving up for a hot pink Jambo Pit!”
– article submitted
by Brenda Bradshaw

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