TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Thousands gathered in Tampa on Saturday for a food festival with live music and games, all for a good cause. The 10th Annual Tampa Pig Jig was a sold-out event and featured more than 65 barbecue teams and multiple live music performances at Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park.
Those involved in the BBQ competition arrived at 4 am to fire up their grills, slow cooking what they all hope to be the award-winning masterpiece.
“We’ve got some chicken up top here, we’re smoking some salmon, we’ve got three Boston butts and three beef briskets in there,” said Karl Jacobson who was the “Grill Master” for the Dobbs Equipment team.
More than 65 teams competed to “Cue’ for a Cure.” Dobbs Equipment team members said they sell John Deere equipment by trade, so they crafted their meat smoker to look like a John Deere bulldozer.
“It took about 400 hours between a few of us. We did it just for Pig Jig. We wanted to make a great impression and have fun out here today,” said Chris Kent who is also on the Dobbs Equipment team.
Event organizers told 8 On Your Side’s Christine McLarty that more than 12,000 people were participating in this year’s event. The live music included three-time Grammy award-winning country superstar Darius Rucker, Brett Young, Judah & The Lion, and more.
“We’re really excited to be back here again,” said Tampa Pig Jig Board Member Chris LaFace. The fundraiser benefits Nephcure Kidney International, the nonprofit supporting research and treatment working to cure rare kidney diseases.
In years past, the event has raised more than $5 million. LaFace said it’s been fun to watch Tampa Pig Jig transform over time.
“The event started 11 years ago with 50 people in a backyard and an acoustic guitar player. We’ve grown over the years, raised a lot more money each year,” LaFace said.
In the competition, there are four meat categories: pork butt, brisket, ribs, and chef’s choice. There are 100 judges ranging from the Food Network and local chefs to cookout out aficionados.
Dobbs Equipment team members are confident.
“I think we stand a good chance. Everybody knows the saying, ‘Nothing runs like a Deere,’…well today, ‘Nothing cooks like a Deere!'” Jacobson said.
The Trenam Law group said they are the team the beat. They said three years in the past they won all four categories.
“We’re not really people to brag or talk about our laurels – but we feel pretty confident,” said Eric Koenig as he smiled and sipped a beverage out of their previous year’s trophies.
Plans are already in the works for Tampa Pig Jig next year. You can sign up on the Tampa Pig Jig website to be notified when tickets go on sale. While this year’s event was sold out you can still participate by donating to the cause or participating in the silent auction, both can be done online.