Bayou BBQ Bash cooks up a crowd in Morgan City
MORGAN CITY, La. — At least 4,000 people from across the region showed up under the U.S. 90 Bridge in Morgan City to watch the barbecue cookoff, enjoy the food and music, and browse the more than 70 arts and crafts booths at Saturday’s Bayou BBQ Bash.
Forty-four teams competed in the barbecue competition, up from 30 teams that competed at the 2012 bash, Bayou BBQ bash creator Don Tellman said.
The number of arts and crafts vendors more than doubled with 74booths displaying anything from wood furniture to quilts underneath the bridge from Third Street to Federal Avenue.
The grand champion got an invitation to the Kansas City Royal, which is one of the most prestigious barbecue competitions. To qualify for the Royal, competitors must have won the grand champion prize in a sanctioned event, an event that includes at least 25 teams, Tellman said.
Grand champion Tee Wayne Abshire’s name also will be put in a drawing for the Jack Daniels’ World Championship Invitational Barbecue competition, which is an invitational where one team from each state gets invited to compete, Tellman said. Competitors also include a few from foreign countries, such as Australia, the United Kingdom, Norway, and Canada, Tellman said.
“It’s a very prestigious event,” Tellman said.
To qualify for the Jack Daniels’ competition, grand champions must have competed in state championship sanctioned events, Tellman said.
“Last year we had 30 teams. To grow to 44, almost one and a half times, is phenomenal. We filled the place. We couldn’t have handled another team without changing the way we were organized,” Tellman said. “We brought in a lot of people to the community. ... I want to thank the Cajun Coast tourist bureau for all of their help in advertising. That’s what brought all of these people in here,” Tellman said.
Abshire’s son, Matthew, won the age 12 and under Kids Que competition, while his daughter, Mary, won the age 13 to 15 kids division. Abshire placed second overall in 2012.
“It’s always great to win grand champion,” Abshire said. “We helped Mr. Don and them cook all night to where they could sell the food to the public today. I guess good deeds pay off sometimes,” Abshire said.
Abshire was happy with everything they turned in to be judged, he said. “I was really happy with my ribs today. We came out second place. I’m still waiting to taste the first place ribs to see how they beat me,” Abshire said Saturday. Abshire also finished second in chicken and finished sixth in brisket.
“We felt like we put the best product that we could on the table so it worked it. Sometimes, it works. Sometimes, it don’t,” Abshire said. ... “Anytime we can come out in the top five in these events with the caliber of cooks that were here from Texas. These guys ... they do it every weekend. We do it kind of pastime ... Those guys are pros so any time you can beat those guys you’ve really gotta smile real hard,” Abshire said. Abshire owns a restaurant he opened six months ago in Gonzales. He has owned a catering business for 20 years, he said.
Reserve Grand Champion Dennis May of Silsbee, Texas, who also competed last year, said, “I enjoyed it. It was an excellent place to have a cookoff run by excellent people. The judges are very good. The promoters are very good. Don and his wife Mata do an excellent job taking care of everybody here. ... The people here are friendly,” May said. May’s wife Vicki finished second in the sauce competition.
Arts and crafts booths were also set up at the bash and were sponsored by Maison Jardin. Sonny Hood of Baton Rouge attended for the second year displaying his Cypress furniture and picture frames he made, he said. Hood had attended the Cypress Sawmill Festival and was invited to come to the bash last year to sell his furniture, Hood said.
Sarah Anslum of Paulina, whose husband is from Morgan City, owns a children’s boutique with clothing, baby gifts, backpacks, etc., and attended the bash as a vendor for the first time. Anslum said she was surprised by the size of the event. “I love to see communities gather together. Where I’m from, in St. James, it’s the same way. Everybody gets together for things like this,” Anslum said.
Anslum decided to come to the bash at the last minute and did not think she was going to get to have a booth.
For a few months, some of his furniture was in Grizzaffi’s Appliance and Furniture store, Hood said.
Hood is a retired remodeling contractor and now builds furniture for a living and attends lot of arts and craft shows with his wife, he said.
Plenty of local vendors also had booths at the bash.
Esther Gilmore, owner of The Quilt Cupboard in Morgan City, attended to help put on a quilt show in the arts and crafts section of the bash. All the quilts were made by local quilters, Gilmore said. Some of the quilts were for sale with proceeds going to the Adullam House in Patterson, Gilmore said.
There will be a raffle of a quilt to also benefit the Adullam House in December. Anyone interested in buying a ticket should contact Gilmore at her store, she said.
Ron Newkirk of Morgan City had a booth selling pickled banana peppers, okra, and cucumbers, as well as other produce he grows on Ditch Avenue, he said. Newkirk also sells his produce at the Bridge Street Market once a month, he said.
Two kids competing in the Kids Q came from New York with their dad, Sgt. Joe Robinson, who has served two tours of duty in Afghanistan and is getting ready to be deployed there for the third time, Morgan City Mayor Frank “Boo” Grizzaffi said.
The event was organzied by the St. Mary Parish Chamber of Commerce.