Piggin' out for the Boys & Girls Club
By Josh Ellerbrock
Published in News on April 14, 2013 1:50 AM
Boss Hog Geoff Hulse shares a quick smooch with a piggy at the Pig in the Park event Saturday to raise funds for the Boys & Girls Club of Wayne County.
White smoke drifted aimlessly across Waynesborough Park Saturday morning as 24 competitors, amateur and professional, battled it at the annual Pig in the Park cook-off to benefit the Boys and Girls Club of Wayne County. As cleavers clacked across wooden cutting boards, people wandered, waiting for a taste of slaw, green beans and, of course, barbecue pork cooked on giant grills.
Winners of the competition could claim the title of "Wayne County's Best Barbecue," and have a chance at the state barbecue competition held by the North Carolina Pork Council. But as for the title of this year's Boss Hog, that would go to only one man brave enough to kiss a pig.
As the day wore on and cookers made final preparations before noon, the crowd started to move away from the alley of about 70 vendors to gather on the two large tables with plastic tablecloths that formed the center of the eating area at Waynesborough Park.
One family, Jessica Caudle of Goldsboro and her parents, Dennis and Laverne Caudle of Greensboro, were among them.
It was the first time the older couple had attended Pig in the Park, and the smell of the barbecue wafting throughout Waynesborough Park had them ready for lunch.
"I think you need a hat before you eat," Dennis said pointing out a family waiting patiently at another table decked out in paper Mr. Pig hats.
"I don't need a hat. I already got one. It says 'Retired,'" he added.
While the Caudles waited in the eating area, bowls of barbecue pork made their way into the board room of the Waynesborough Park Museum, where the official judging was taking place.
Cooking contestants could participate in two categories: backyard or composite, a more professional category judged by official representatives of the North Carolina Pork Council.
The barbecue was judged based on appearance, tenderness and taste, and after much deliberation, Smoke n' Ribs BBQ Pit out of Castle Hayne, North Carolina, earned first place.
The private party catering service from Castle Hayne has been participating in barbecue cooking competitions for about a year. Normally, Wade and Darrell Groves bring the whole family with them to cook the pork, but everyone except the father-son pair was busy for this particular competition.
"Darrell's always wanted to do something like this," Wade said. "And now, he's got the bug."
Big Hawg Catering, of Clinton, received second place, and Down East BBQ, of Pikeville, received third place.
As for the backyard division, Martin Johnson, with the Goldsboro Parks and Recreation team, took the first-place trophy for the second year in a row. He also took home a large platter made by EB Designs.
Boys and Girls Club Board President of Wayne County Rick Sumner presented the ceramic piece to Johnson.
"It's one of a kind. So don't break it. We can't replace it," Sumner said as Johnson tried to juggle the platter and his almost 3-foot tall trophy.
Oakbrook Apartments took second place and BB&T took third place.
Then, after a few more tunes by the Mighty Saints of Soul, Geoff Hulse was announced as the new Boss Hog, beating out last year's crown prince Kirk Keller and the rest of the five-man field.
With the competition culminating Friday night with a bar hop and downtown bash, Hulse raised $1,400 of the $2,000 total. The others competing were Keller, Steve Keen, Brad Hood and Bill Edgerton.
As Hulse was announced as this year's winner, Keller jumped backstage with the royal props, a crown, cape and staff, so Hulse could be regally attired for his romantic getaway with the sow. Though as he pecked the piggy on the snout, a cry came from the crowd: "I don't want to tell you what I saw it eating earlier," presumably referring to Hulse's love of barbecue.
Hulse later relayed the secret of his success.
"If the pig had to kiss (Keller) twice, they would be dating. It was kind of a sympathy vote for the pig," Hulse said. "If I had to succeed in anyone's hoof prints, I couldn't think of anybody better than my buddy Kirk."
Keller didn't seem too disappointed by this year's loss.
"It's been a great reign. It was a great competition -- a stiff competition. May (Hulse) reign and ham it up for another year," Keller said.
The Pig in the Park is the Boys & Girls Club primary fundraiser in Wayne County. Last year, the event helped raise about $30,000 for the organization, and more than 5,000 people attended.