* To view video from the event, click here.
Thousands of people descended on the Cumming Fairgrounds Saturday to try the smoky, spicy and sweet offerings cooked up by barbecue teams from near and far.
More than 90 professional and 30 amateur cooks competed in the inaugural National BBQ Cup: Que’n in Cumming event, which began Friday.
Proceeds went to support several local nonprofits, including the Forsyth Community Connection, Bald Ridge Lodge and Jesse’s House.
Organizer Randall Bowman said he thinks the event has put Cumming on the map.
"The publicity we’re getting from the barbecue publications over the next month is going to be astronomical," he said. "It’s all going to be about the city of Cumming and the hospitality and the facility and the contest itself.
"We have quickly become the ‘it’ place to be for a barbecue competition."
The turnout exceeded Bowman’s expectations.
"We were literally prepared for 2,500 or 3,000 people and we got probably four times that coming through on Saturday," he said.
Planning for next year’s competition has begun. Bowman said he will make a few improvements, including being ready for a large crowd.
"I will make sure that anybody who comes in will have an opportunity to have barbecue in some way, form or fashion," he said.
Bowman said usually the "people’s choice" portion of such an event draws 100 to 150 people with food left over.
However, barbecue for the competition ran out Saturday less than two hours after it began.
At that point, Bowman ended the voting, stopped charging admission and asked the competitors he knew if they would provide samples to serve to the people still in line.
"All of a sudden I had three or 400 pounds of pork brought back to me from teams that usually never let people sample their food," he said.
Chris and Tammy Pratt, who waited about two hours in the "people’s choice" line, said they were pleased with several of the different kinds of barbecue they sampled. Both agreed the competition should be brought back next year.
"It’s a good event," Chris Pratt said. "There was a huge turnout, so I think there’s a demand for this."
Professional and amateur, or backyard, winners were announced in categories including chicken, pork, sauce and desserts.
In the professional category, the grand champion trophy went to Bubba and Shannon Latimer of Bub-Ba-Q of Woodstock.
"I’m on top of the world," Bubba Latimer said. "This turned out to be an unbelievable first-year event. I’m beside myself."
Latimer also won third place in the chicken category. He returned the money he won from that competition as a donation for the event’s beneficiaries.
Ron Stephens’ team from Huntsville, Ala., took first place in the brisket competition.
"We do about 10 [competitions] a year and we try to stay as close as we can to home," Stephens said. "This has been a top-notch contest."