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BBQ for Paws

BBQ for Paws: Pig cookers persevere to support animal shelter

Small-town event brings in heavy-weight talent for up-and-coming contest

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N.C. Pork Council judges Lubin Prevatt and Chris Hight check the temperature gauges on the hog cooked by Charlie Meeks of Newport.

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Staff Writer

Sunday, November 4, 2018

SNOW HILL — It takes a dedicated pit master to grill a 128-pound hog in the middle of a nor’easter. That’s exactly what 12 faithful and talented competitors did last week at the third annual BBQ for Paw fundraiser in Snow Hill.

Thanks to the perseverance and hard work of the cooks, the event on Oct. 26-27 raised $19,000 to benefit the Greene County Animal Shelter and costs for other county rescue facilities.

Despite the heavy rain and wind gusts that literally blew over team’s tent at 4 a.m., four of the best cooks in the state managed to produce excellent specimens of eastern North Carolina barbecue.

Taking the top prize was Chris Fineran of Little River, S.C.

This was Fineran’s first participation in BBQ for Paws, but it won’t be his last, he said.

For the last three years, Fineran earned the title of N.C. Pit Master of the Year, and won the state championship this year. Fineran won first place at Smoke on the Water, held Oct. 20 in Washington, N.C.

“A person has to be good to be that consistent cooking from one place to another, over weather and competition,” said Pat Adams of Snow Hill, the chairwoman of the Greene County Board of Education and an N.C. Pork Council judge for nearly 30 years.

Fineran and his brother-in-law Steve Sumner have cooked in 17 events this year, placing first in seven and second in three of them.

Fineran had planned to cook at Mayberry Days in Mount Airy this weekend, but the event was canceled and he was able to register for BBQ for Paws.

Fineran won $1,000 Saturday as the top winner.

“I made up my mind when I came up here that whatever I won I was going to give back to the dogs. It’s a great cause and they deserve the money,” he said.

True to his word, Fineran donated his winnings back to the fundraising event.

Before the judging, Fineran and Sumner were doubtful they’d win this one.

“We messed it up a little bit. We’ve cooked better,” Fineran said. “Sometimes you’re the windshield; sometimes you’re the bug. We’re the bug this week.”

At one point in the process, Fineran turned off the gas to prevent fire from flaring up from the grease when he flipped his pig over.

“We forgot to light the grill back for about 40 minutes,” he said. We’re going to fall a little short today, I think. It’s alright. We had a good season.”

Adding to the mistake was the weather.

“This was the toughest cook we’ve had all year, because of the rains and wind all night long,” Fineran said.

Second place went David Hoffman of Kinston, a third-year competitor at the Snow Hill event and its 2017 second-place winner. Placing third was another three-time participant, Ernest Twisdale of Roanoke. In 2017, he took home the fourth place trophy.

The oldest and most seasoned pit master of them all, Charlie Meeks, 83, of Newport, took fourth place. Meeks took home the top prize in the 2017 BBQ for Paws.

N.C. Pork Council judges were Charlie Martin of Greenville, Lubin Prevatt of Raleigh and Chris Hight.

Judges selected the winners based on how thoroughly the pork is cooked, its color and tenderness. In addition, the pork skin, the taste of the sauce and the cooking site’s appearance also earned points.

“For a small town, they brought in all the heavy weights,” Martin said. “I don’t think ya’ll appreciate the talent that is here. It’s phenomenal.

Fineran agreed.

“Out of 12 cooks, four of us are state champions. That’s the caliber of competition here,” he said. “These guys know how to cook. It’s hard to come up here and beat these guys like this. I have a lot of respect for these guys.”

Speaking of the challenging overnight weather, Twisdale, a former state champion, said, “It was tough for a while. It don’t affect the cooking. It just makes it aggravating going in and out. After it stopped raining, that’s when the wind started.”

Of the results, Martin added, “We’ve seen some beautiful pigs. With the weather, we wouldn’t expect to see that.”

Billy Narron of Kinley participated in 2016.

“I’ve probably done 10 or 11 of these this year,” Narron said. “It felt good, in spite of everything we had to go through.”

Local barbecue cook David Murray said of his offering to judges, “I give it a B. The skin wasn’t as crisp as I wanted.”

Pit master Bruce Daniel and his helper David “Big Head” Edwards, both from Roanoke Rapids, noted the size of the pigs at BBQ for Paws were larger than average, which made cooking easier. Most pigs average weight is 100-110 pounds. This weekend’s were upward to 128 pounds.

Two-time participant David Brown and his brother William and son-in-law Tony of Snow Hill were the only team cooking with charcoal rather than gas. Because of the unique style and effect, some competitions create a whole category for wood and charcoal cooks.

“I’m old fashioned. I like them good old ways,” he said. “We wouldn’t do it any other way. I enjoy doing this.”

While the cooks were preparing their hogs for the grill Friday night, The Hobgood Players of Northampton County entertained an intimate crowd inside the Farmers Market, where four vendors had set up. Vegetable soup, hot dogs and hamburgers were also available for purchase.

Once the trophies were handed out Saturday morning, event staff, as well as volunteers from Greene Early College dished up barbecue plates to sell to the public.

“The conditions we faced for this year’s fundraiser were not ideal, but the cooks were impressive. Thanks to them, we raised $19,000. We call that a win,” Glossip said.

The Standard Laconic is based in Snow Hill and serves all of Greene County.


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