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‘Cue lovers flock to M’boro

MURFREESBORO – Call it the day of the pig.

Recently, the annual Roanoke-Chowan Pork Fest took center stage, bringing visitors from all over.

Pork Fest Committee member Colon Ballance said more than 700 people filled the grounds of the Jefcoat Museum for the pork barbecue competition in its seventh year.

For Ballance it was his first time at the sway for the festival as he replaced retired Jefcoat Director Brinson Paul earlier this year.

Ballance noted a decrease in attendance and bigger sponsors and attributed them to the economic situation and high gas prices.

Despite those factors the festival was a success.

“I’m very pleased with the way things went,” said Ballance. “We were blessed with good weather…things ran smoothly.”

Festival-goers browsed vendor tents, listened to music and, of course, perused “Pork Alley,” where 20 cooking teams face off in both showmanship and onsite competition.

For the onsite competition, Ann Edmondson, Jerry Sneed and Jerry Hart with the North Carolina Pork Council tore apart each of the pigs to test for crispness, firmness and taste.

When the winners were announced, Pork Fest officials stated the competition saw “the closest judging ever done.”

This year’s winning team was Captain Charlie’s Cookers from Newport, NC. Head Chef is Charlie L. Meeks Sr., who came in third last year.

Judges for the showmanship competition were Cathy Davison, Raymond Benthall and Gattis Hodges.

Ballance said 650 plates were served during the event’s barbecue meal, which is chopped pork collected from the grilled pigs. The pork is dowsed in Murfreesboro’s “secret sauce.”

Other winners included:

* Second place: Down Home Cookers, Head Chef Joe Peterson from Roanoke Rapids

* Third place: Old Hickory, Head Chef Roy Parker from Zebulon

* Fourth place: Three Little Pigs, Head Chef Jeanie Chestnut from Newport, NC.

* Fifth place: Carolina Cooker, Head Chef Leslie Deaton from Roanoke Rapids.

Showmanship winners:

* First place: Minutemen Cookers from Halifax

* Second place: Just 4 Fun from Four Oaks