Hark barbecue lovers: the smell of mesquite wood chips will be in the air for the fourth annual Big Swamp Smoke-Off barbecue competition on January 8-9. Held at the Collier County Fairgrounds, the two-day barbecue bash will pit some of the best professional from around the country in an open-flamed competition like none other—and you get to be the taste-tester/judge. Part of the Florida BBQ Association‘s contest circuit, the Big Swamp Smoke-Off includes four categories: chicken, rib, pulled pork, and brisket, all vying for cash prizes, points in the cooking circuit, and bragging rights of course; prizes for the Pro Division and Meat Categories will be determined by circuit judges.
For guests of the barbecue battle, the People’s Choice Award will be determined by a good-old democratic vote. On Friday at the cooks’ meeting, each team will be given a Boston butt—that’s pork butt for the uninitiated—to dress and cook as they see fit. The pork will be handed over to the officials at 10 a.m. on Saturday to be put up for a public tasting and vote, the winner of which gets a trophy and some serious bragging rights. Expect some rather interesting rubs and sauces in this category—teams are looking to stand out from the crowd. Awards will be delivered at 5 p.m. on Saturday.
A family-fun type of event, there will be a designated kids zone equipped with bounce house, bungee, carnival games, and arts and crafts for kids to get creative. From 1-4 p.m. on Saturday, the main stage will host Live N Learn rock band, followed by the award ceremony at 5 p.m.
And no barbecue party is complete without a healthy dose of suds. On Saturday, open to close, a craft beer sampling will feature 10 craft breweries from around Florida, including the Paradise Coast’s own Naples Beach Brewery. Admission is free; samples cost $2 per.
- Admission to the fourth annual Big Swamp Smoke-Off barbecue competition is free and open to the public. For more information, visit bigswampsmokeoff.com.