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Barbecue competition returns
Draws teams from across nation
Guests line up during the 2011 Quen in Cumming at the Cumming Fairgrounds. This year's event is set for Friday and Saturday. - photo by Autumn Vetter

If you’re going

The National BBQ Cup: Que’n in Cumming returns to the Cumming Fairgrounds, 235 Castleberry Road, 5-9:30 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday. Admission is $10 Friday and $5 Saturday; children 10 and younger are free. Tasting tickets for people’s choice events both days are 5 for $5. For more information, visit


Coming Friday

Don’t miss the Forsyth County News’ special guide to the National BBQ Cup: Que’n in Cumming.

Dozens of professional barbecue teams will descend on the Cumming Fairgrounds next weekend as the National BBQ Cup: Que’n in Cumming returns.

The event, which is sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbecue Society, debuted last year to much success, drawing more than 12,000 people and some 90 professional teams and about 30 amateur teams.

Organizer Randall Bowman said he’s proud to bring the event back this year with a few changes that will hopefully make it even better.

He said this year’s event will begin at 5 p.m. Friday, with live music beginning at 7:45 p.m.

Performers include Jody Abernathy and Mark Mundy of Across the Wide, Wendell Cox of the Travis Tritt Band, and Mac Powell of Third Day.

Festivities continue from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday.

Professional barbecue teams from “all over the country” will compete for a number of cash prizes in divisions of chicken, ribs, shoulder and beef brisket.

Some teams will also participate in people’s choices tasting events, although Bowman said there often are some
misconceptions about barbecue competitions.

“One of our things, and this is with every food competition, is that people are under the impression that you can just come in and eat from every single person,” he said.

“A lot of that really is the health department. We’re not allowed [to have] just any John Doe to come in here and set up and start handing out food.”

However, he said there will be two opportunities for the public to try some championship barbecue.

The first is a new tasting event that has been added opening night.

“Friday we’re also doing a people’s choice [event], which we didn’t do last year,” Bowman said.

“Unfortunately, last year it was so unbearably cold that night that we decided to do something to keep people moving and give them something warm. So we’re giving them chicken wings and Brunswick stew as the people’s choice voting on Friday.”

There will also be a pulled pork people’s choice tasting from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, as there was last year, though Bowman noted there will be some changes.

On both Friday and Saturday, he said, people can buy five sampling tickets for $5. They can then walk around to the different team booths that are participating in the people’s choice contests to get their samples.

That’s different than last year’s event, when spectators were asked to go inside the fairground’s red barn to get all their samples.

“It’ll be all over the place this year so people will be able to walk all over the grounds and have more interactions with the teams,” he said.

Besides the people’s choice participants, Bowman said visitors can also purchase food from about 20 different food vendors.

In addition, there will be a number of family-friendly games and activities.

All proceeds from the two-day event will benefit the Bald Ridge Lodge and the Forsyth County Community Connection, although Bowman noted that other charitable groups such as Supporting Adoption and Foster Families Together and area Rotary clubs will be selling items to raise funds.

“My goal is to really … have something here that we can all be proud of and something that all the merchants can be prosperous with, the community can take part in and we can all help those nonprofits that benefit from it,” Bowman said.