TRYON — When the smoke rises over Harmon Field in Tryon June 8 and 9, a cooking team will be setting a new record at the Blue Ridge BBQ & Music Festival.
Hogs & Kisses, the youngest team ever to compete here, will be vying against the seasoned veterans. Allison Hembree and Madison Arrowood, two 14-year-olds who competed for the first time last October in the Future Legends of BBQ at Camp Mondamin in Tuxedo, are serious about winning.
Allison, stepdaughter of Justin Hembree, pit master of Fast Eddie's Fine Swine, and Madison, daughter of Tryon Police Chief Jeff Arrowood, won big at that contest for young cookers last fall. On the way to the Grand Championship they took first in ribs and first in sauce. Their twice-baked potatoes took third place in competitors' choice, and they placed third in the theme category.
Justin Hembree said that when the girls told him they wanted to enter the Tryon contest, he suggested they might compete in the chicken and ribs categories. But Madison, who knows the contest rules, immediately responded, "But if we just do that, we can't win the Grand Championship!"
As a result of this determination, they are entering all the required categories—pork shoulder, pork ribs, chicken and beef brisket. And, they are cooking a whole hog, something only a few of the competing teams are equipped to do. They are also planning to enter the "Anything But" and the Dessert contests on Friday. ("Anything But" refers to any entree which does not include meat from the four categories required for the Grand Championship.)
Festival Chairman Chuck Britton said he was so pleased the girls were going to be part of the excitement at this year's event, that he invited them to participate further by taking one of the hourly slots at the Cooking Demo tent, where festivalgoers gather to get cooking tips from the experts. "They obviously have some sound techniques, and we are happy to encourage them," he said.
The two dads will be part of the Hogs & Kisses team when their daughters compete at Tryon, but they insist they'll just be in the background, as they were at the Future Legends event. "All we do is stoke the fire and help cut the meat—the cooking is strictly left up to the girls,' Justin said.
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