Beaufort County barbecue gets high marks at Whole Hog State Championships

Published 3:14 pm Tuesday, February 14, 2023

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Washington’s Wesley Bowers came in third place at the Whole Hog Barbecue State Championship on Saturday, February 11 in Raleigh. He was the champion at last year’s competition. Bowers’ team is called Getting Piggy With It. 

This year though, Chris Fineran of Little River, South Carolina was named the Whole Hog State Champion for 2023. Only two points separated him and second place winner Andy Harrison of Louisburg. Fineran has won the state championship two other times, once in 2016 and in 2018. 

The competition’s history was made richer on Saturday night with an unprecedented four way tie for cooks who had the highest scores in the Crispy Skin section of the scoresheet. Mark Woolard of Bath, Billy John Narron of Middlesex, Kevin Peterson of Benson and Andy Harrison of Louisburg obtained “perfect scores” on skin, according to the Whole Hog Barbecue competition. 

Bowers and Woolard were two cooks from Beaufort County who competed against 26 other cooks in the competition. 

Before the pigs can be sauced and seasoned, they are reviewed by certified judges whose scores are given based on appearance, color, skin crispness, taste and presentation. When judging is over, then the cooks can add flavor to the meat. It is then presented to the judges for a blind taste-test. Judges do not know who cooked the meat. The meat is scored based on taste, tenderness and appearance. 

David Murray of Snow Hill won first place, Richie Fulgham of Wilson won second and Welsey Bowers of Washington placed third in the blind tasting category.

According to Whole Hog, “a set of celebrity judges visited each tent to sample the homemade sauces and awarded first place in the Sauce Category to Eli Barnhill of Wendell first place. Mark Woolard of Bath came in second and David Murray of Snow Hill won third.” 

In the final category, People’s Choice, Daniel Jones of Greenville won first place, Ernest Twisdale of Roanoke Rapids won second place and Mat Griner of Zebulon won third place. “A VIP set of judges visited each tent and all of the participants at the Barbecue Summit were invited to sample the prepared barbecue and vote on their favorite,” per Whole Hog. 

The next competition is February 17 and 18 in Pantego at 6166 NC Highway 97. There is a $100 entry fee. Fifty teams will be competing in gas and natural source categories. 

The N.C. Pork Council has organized and sanctioned the Whole Hog Barbecue Championship since 1985 as the culmination of the Whole Hog Barbecue Series local competitions statewide. The Whole Hog Barbecue Series celebrates the history and artistry of whole hog cooking, supports communities and nonprofits, raising more than $114,000 each year for local charities. The Whole Hog Barbecue Series and championship is one of the ways the N.C. Pork Council supports local communities and events throughout our region. To learn more about the Whole Hog Barbecue Series, visit