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    Posted March 16, 2015 by
    Murrells Inlet, South Carolina

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    Who Loves Barbeque?


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     Rain didn't dampen these Southerners' plans on Saturday during their barbecue festival. ecotraveler traveled to Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, where she received southern hospitality and enjoyed the barbecue competition.
    - AmandaJTX, CNN iReport producer

    Barbecue in the south is synonymous with fun, family and camaraderie.
    It turns out that the first Marshwalk Barbecue Festival and Cook Off hosted by Wicked Tuna Restaurant was also the scene for many firsts this weekend.
    When the popular seafood and sushi restaurant in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina decided to host the sixth South Carolina Barbecue Associations competition in 2015, they had no idea they may make history as the first barbecue competition with the most firsts.
    First of all, the SCBA proudly maintains that South Carolina was the first state in the nation to conduct its contest for an entire year and state-wide, from January 1 to December 31 and in 35 cities and towns throughout the state.
    Lake High, Jr was the official SCBA Marshall and said he was "quite pleased" that 5 of the teams were local and it was the first competition for 4 of the 5.
    The Sticky Fingers' Terry Johnson team was one of those firsts. Alex Bautner from Charleston, SC and Jason Couture from Florida are Area Directors for the Sticky Fingers chain and traveled to Murrells Inlet to compete. Couture said it all started when a server at the Coastal Grand Mall location, Tyler, suggested Sticky Fingers throw its hat in this competitive ring to see how its barbecue stacked up, South Carolina-style and the game was on.

    Terry Johnson, Tylers Manager helped get things rolling and they converted an enormous gas grill to a wood-fired smoker for the event, then hauled it from Myrtle Beach.


    The SCBA stated they were especially pleased with this years trophy which was an impressive cleaver mounted on a block made from an 850 year old Cypress tree.
    The tree was felled over 100 years ago, and landed in the Wacamaw River. There it remained until the massive tree was hauled out and painstakingly carved into the beautifully grained wooden block. That same Cypress tree was also recycled to construct the main bar at Wicked Tuna, heretofore a little known fact. Contestants arrived in everything from completely outfitted RVs to golf carts with everything in between. John Burks' JB Squared BBQ team is just another example of the friendships and comaraderie that abound in this competitive yet dedicated group of barbecuers. And yet another first.
    Burks has competed in 15 barbecue competitions throughout the country, including the famous "Royal Competition" he said, but this was a first for John Black. "That was the best and most thought out trophy I've ever seen," Burks said.  Black said when his friend, Burks needed help hauling his cooker, they formed a partnership and used Blacks truck to help Burks get his passion and his delicious barbecue from his Loris, SC home to the Murrells Inlet event.
    The team scored a total of 14.6667 in Butts and 15.4667 in the Ribs category, missing first place by a puff.  Calvin Cassidys, First Cue team took the dark wooden first place trophy for ribs by scoring 15.9833, and then scored 14.7667 in Butts.  "I was really happy we won the popular vote," said Black, "but we sure wanted one of those beautiful trophies."

    Music and laughter echoed from the restaurants parking lot into the evening, as 3 bands took turns playing throughout the day. This was also the first time a young band, "Steppin' Stones" played at Wicked Tuna, but despite the musicians ages, 17, 19 and 21 they were a hit.
    About 2,000 BBQ lovers and foodies attended the outside competition, says Wicked Tunas General Manager David Stallard, but Robert DeLuca, a transplanted electrical engineer from New Jersey chose the dry restaurant's inside and says events like these were one of the reasons he retired to Myrtle Beach.
    Sticky Fingers' Couture said it was a great mix of folks and a great location with great hosts. He added that he can't say enough about the team and that they are planning on mastering the craft this year, to be Number One next year."
    Prior to this barbecue, the closely knit staff at Wicked tuna said they really didn't know what made Head Chef, Dylan Foster smile. Now we know it's pelicans and barbecue.
    Additional scores and information on participating in a SCBA event as a host, contestant or a judge are available at www.scbarbecue.com



    1 Adam Justice, Patrick Acuna, Henry Ford left to right, with Surfwater Promotions proudly display the t-shirts they designed and produced for the event

    2 Sticky Fingers District Managers, Alex Bautner and Joseph Couture, with server, Tyler aka Justin Beeber by his coworkers, left to right

    3 The Bold Branch Joe Hillard team

    Barbecue lovers and foodies huddle under tents as frequent downpours fail to dwindle enthusiasm for the scba competition

    6 John Burks and John Black left to right on the JB2 Team

    7 First place winner in Ribs: First Que, Calvin Cassidy team

    8 Steppin' Stones

    9 Robert DELuca

    10 Head Chef, Dylan Foster and LB (Little Brown) Pelican

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