CUTTING TO THE CHASE: Joe Ervin of Neanderhogs Up in Smoke BBQ of Greer, S.C., prepares for battle in the 2014 Blue Ridge BBQ Festival competition. Photo by Cindy Kunst

No holds barred: Blue Ridge BBQ Festival sees both fierce and friendly competition

By the time we come down from the clouds that cling to the mountains, and pull into Tryon, the rain is hot on our heels on a Friday afternoon. Not good news for the 73 competition barbecue cookers that have come from as far away as Texas and Missouri to try their hand at yet another trophy, this time at the recent Blue Ridge BBQ & Music Festival.

12 Bones Smokehouse  Photo by Cindy Kunst

Smoky, smoky mountains: The changing face of North Carolina barbecue

“Write about the succulent glories of Tar Heel barbecue at one’s own peril,” advised Rosemary Roberts of the Greensboro News & Record, adding, “It’s much safer to take on the National Rifle Association.” Barbecue is North Carolina’s love, lust and food of choice. Heck, it might as well be our state religion. And if love, religion and food are the three most common causes of rifts, rivalries and wars, barbecue is also a battleground.