It's Big Pig Jig time! - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

It's Big Pig Jig time!

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VIENNA, GA (WALB) -

It's one of the largest festivals in South Georgia, and one of the largest barbeque festivals in the nation. 

As you pass by it on Interstate 75, you can't help but notice what looks like a small subdivision and if you like barbeque smells like heaven. It's the Big Pig Jig. And it's a big deal.

"We have 114 cook teams this year that are cooking in Big Pig Jig and, of course, they're trying to win grand champion," said Mike Roper, Big Pig Jig Chairman.

It draws competitors from near and far, like this van from South Carolina. Cooks who have been coming here for years.

"This is our 18th or 19th year. We've been coming here for a long, long time," said Scott McDaniel, North Augusta, SC.

Cooks who aren't afraid to show off their trophies. Trophies like the ones that you see here lead to possible national championships, which is part of the appeal here as well.

"We are MBN's biggest and largest event," said Roper.

The Memphis Barbeque Network is one of two major competitive circuits in the nation, and while barbeque has become a full time job for some people, many of the competitors are just people who enjoy cooking out.

"I love to cook, I love to eat and I love to have a good time," said Bo Johnson and Gary Beard, Albany.

He's part of a group called the pink pork pokers, who are competing in three different categories.

"We're cooking in Brunswick Stew, which we've won twice.  Chicken, which we've won twice, and we're also cooking in ribs and shoulders," said Johnson.

Other people here own restaurants or catering businesses, like Tyrone Marshall of Sylvester.  He'll take back what he learns here to his customers.

"The competition makes you better.  It makes you better at what you do," said Tyrone Marshall, Sylvester

With the doors to the smokers closed, now it's time to take in the rest of what the Big Pig Jig has to offer.

"There's food vendors, arts and crafts, there's a great concert," said Roper.

And time to wait until the product is just right.

"We put it on about 3 o'clock.  This here will be going on until about 9 a.m. Friday," said Marshall.

But whether they're professionals or amateurs, everyone here has one thing in common they're looking to have a good time with their families.

"It's very much a family atmosphere.  We can hang out together, have fun and be together," said McDaniel

The Big Pig Jig goes through Saturday with one of the most popular events, public tasting of the barbeque taking place at 2 p.m. 

To get a complete list of events at the Big Pig Jig, you can go to www.bigpigjig.com

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