APEX — Organizers are putting the pig back in the Peak City Pig Fest.
On Saturday, spectators will be able to buy barbecue from the contest’s 36 teams for the first time.
“One of the biggest things we heard about last year was the fact that competition barbecue was not available for sale to the public,” said John Sperath, president of the Apex Sunrise Rotary Club, which is hosting the event. “We listened, and this year we will have the competition (food) available at the special tent in the cook-team area operated by the Apex Sunrise Rotary Foundation.”
The club also made some other improvements to Pig Fest, now in its second year. Saturday’s event will start at 9 a.m. on Salem Street in downtown Apex.
There will be a beer garden, a bigger play area for children and a second entertainment stage in front of the Apex Chamber of Commerce building.
The number of competition teams is up from 30 last year to 36, and the event will feature a sauce competition.
Several vendors and non-barbecue foods will also be available. Pig races and a corn hole tournament will return.
Teams will compete for about $15,000 in prize money and a shot at the Grand Champion title in four categories: pork, chicken, brisket and ribs.
Winners will get a chance to go on to two national competitions. They will automatically qualify for a spot at the American Royal Invitational in Kansas City and enter a lottery with about a dozen other state winners for a chance to represent North Carolina at the Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitational Barbecue.
Teams can also take part in a desserts competition and people’s choice.
More than 50 teams applied for a spot in this year’s Peak City Pig Fest, the Triangle’s only Kansas City Barbeque Society-sanctioned contest, said Graham Wilson, one of the organizers of the event.
One of the teams that made the cut is BBQ PropAh, which is based in Raleigh. It was a lucky break for the team, which wasn’t able to get into last year’s contest because it had already filled.
“We know we’ve got good stuff,” said team cook Rob Henson. “We feel strongly that we’ll do well and get the People’s Choice award.”
They’ve already got some wins under their belt. BBQ PropAh won first place in the People’s Choice competition at last year’s Eastern Carolina BBQ Throw Down in Rocky Mount.
The team makes different barbecue styles – from the Eastern-style vinegar-based sauce to the Texas-style brisket with a dry rub.
Henson jokes that he got into barbecue because “you get to sit around and solve the world’s problems while you’re cooking some meat and drinking some beers with your friends.”
On Saturday, BBQ PropAh will face stiff competition from teams all over the country, including two teams that went to the Jack Daniel’s championship last year.
Pigfest Grand Champions Pelletheads.com represented North Carolina last year, placing sixth in the ribs category and 23rd for its pork. Tarheel Smokers, another team that competed at last year’s Pig Fest, represented Virginia at the Jack Daniels event and ranked 25th in chicken and 33rd in brisket.