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The 3rd annual Pork & Beats Festival draws biggest crowd to date

By Charlotte Smith

Although the weather Saturday was frigid, blustery, and drizzly; the third annual Pork & Beats Festival held at the Cape Fear Farmer’s Market in Elizabethtown was a great success, according to the organizers. The BBQ cook-off drew a large crowd and fed many. The entertainment had folks dancing in the rain and vendors held on tight with smiles offering their services.

Mike Shaw, Founder of the Pork & Beats Festival welcomed the crowd to the event. He thanked the sponsors of the event, mentioned the original committee members of the festival, and introduced Town of Elizabethtown Mayor, Sylvia Campbell.

“Thank you for getting out on a cold wet day to be here,” Mayor Campbell said. She expressed her appreciation to all the staff at the Town of Elizabethtown, other event organizers, the vendors, the cooks who stayed up all night cooking” and she thanked Smithfield for providing the hogs.

The festival’s BBQ Cook-off was sanctioned by the North Carolina Pork Council this year. When the event started in 2017 there were three cooks and last year there were 11, according to Mr. Shaw.

This year, there were 23 cooks competing in the BBQ Cook-off.

“We couldn’t ask for anything to go any better, other than the weather, but you can’t control the weather,” Mr. Shaw said.

The Band of Brothers at site number nine in the cook-off were waiting inside the farmer’s market to hear the results.

“We started at 9 pm and cooked the hog all night long,” Mr. David McKoy said standing with his Band of Brothers team.

The local celebrity judges of the blind taste test were Mrs. Beverly Parks, Dr. Robert Taylor, Mr. Evan Britt and Mr. Nathan Dowless. The NC Pork Council had representatives on site for the sanctioned cook-off.

Elizabethtown Police Chief, Tony Parrish announced the award winners.

In the NCPC sanctioned cook-off the first place trophy and monetary prize of $1250 went to Showtime’s Legit BBQ. In second place with a trophy and $750 in monetary winnings was J3 Cooking Team. Last, but not least in the sanctioned cook-off, Mills on Wheels came in third place winning a trophy and $500.

NCPC sanctioned cook-off results

The top winner, Showtime’s Legit BBQ, Kevin Peterson from Benson, NC is the 2017 and 2019 NC State BBQ Cook-off winner. He earned the title at the Wide Open Blue Grass Festival and received first in sauce in 2018.

“I have competed in 23 events this year. I’m the only one that cooked in every event that there is that is not duplicated,” Mr. Peterson said.

His wife, Mrs. Dana Peterson, said, “We were running to the last second and it paid off.” They said they would be back next year for the competition and until then you can keep in touch with them on their Facebook page.


Blind Taste Test results

In the Blind Taste Test; Hound Dog BBQ took home the trophy and a prize of $100. Chief Parrish did announce he would work on having more awards for the Blind Taste competition.

Blind Taste Test winner David Murray with Hound Dog BBQ from Snow Hill, NC plans to return next year as well.

Some vendors held out; offering their services, information and give-aways. The Bladen County Law Enforcement Officers Association offered free gun locks, bracelets and information. Ms. Sarah Murphy said the Sheriff’s Office would be offering more concealed carry and firearm safety classes in the near future. Anyone interested may contact her at

Local Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and the Robert Curtis Hester Disabled American Veterans, Chapter 99 were on site selling tickets for a drawing to win a rifle. The local Veterans are raising funds to repair their building on Cypress Street in Elizabethtown.

Law Enforcement Officer, Shane Todd assisted with the Booze It & Lose It bus. The bus was on site to educate and raise awareness of the dangers and consequences of drinking and driving.

Other vendors on site offered fresh fruits, vegetables, household items and hand-made crafts.

The entertainment of the day kept the show going. Mr. David Howard started the line up and saved the day with his sound equipment, according to Mr. Shaw. Next the Baldwin Branch MBC Laymen’s League performed with enthusiasm.

Blackwater Rhythm & Blues band ended the event playing with so much fervor people were dancing and clapping despite the dreary weather.

Town of Elizabethtown Director of Communications and Marketing, Mrs. Terri Dennison said she was very pleased with the event. The festival is a celebration to promote Elizabethtown and the hog industry. Although the amount of pork prepared by the 23 cooks during the cook-off was a record, the BBQ was almost sold out by mid-afternoon.

Chief Parrish agreed, the amount of people that turned out to support the festival was remarkable. Many at the event discussed their excitement for next year’s festival and the hope for better weather.

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