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Barbecue competition supplements Bath Memorial Day celebration

There’s nothing more quintessentially eastern North Carolina than whole-hog vinegar-based barbecue, and there’s few things more quintessentially Bath than pirates — hence the title of the upcoming “Buccaneers and Barbecue” competition slated for Memorial Day weekend in Bath.

Set amidst the festivities of the Greater Bath Foundation’s annual Memorial Day Celebration, the competition will bring 25 of the best whole-hog barbecue cooks from across North Carolina and beyond. Competitors will hail from Raleigh, Wilson, Roanoke Rapids, Morehead City and even as far away as Cherry Grove, South Carolina, as well as hometown cooks from right here in Beaufort County. Proceeds from the event will go directly to support the Historic Bath Site.

“Pork barbecue is an eastern North Carolina thing that we enjoy doing,” said event organizer Evan “Tiny” Woolard. “It’s something I’ve always grown up doing, even as a young’un starting out with hog killing to throwing it on the grill. It’s just the camaraderie of friends and family enjoying it.”

The Buccaneers and Barbecue event is one of more than two dozen sanctioned competitions that make up the North Carolina Pork Council’s Whole Hog Barbecue series. For serious cooks, the competition can be intense — points from each competition are added up at the end of the year and the top hog griller is named Pitmaster of the Year.

“Different people have different hobbies to relieve stress, and this is one of mine,” Woolard said.

Pigs for the competition will be delivered around 7 p.m. on Friday evening and will cook overnight before the judging begins at 8 a.m. on Saturday. 20 competitors will be cooking with gas, while five others will be cooking on natural fuel sources.

Visitors to the Bath can buy their own barbecue sandwiches beginning later that morning, with pork by the pound for sale as well.

“What better place is there to be than Bonner Point?” Woolard said. “People are welcome to come, walk through and anybody that wants to know more information about how the pigs are prepared, anybody that cooks with the pork council will be happy to share and tell you about how we prepare our pigs before we cook them all night.

The competition will take place at 200 Front Street in Bath, and on Saturday evening, visitors are invited to stick around for music by the Embers and a firework show off of Bonner Point. For more information about the Whole Hog Barbecue Series, visit www.wholehogbarbecue.com.