The temperatures are at an all-time high in mid-August and that only means one thing, True Smoke BBQ’s 4th Annual Smoke Out is less then 75 days away. For anyone that has followed Shore Smoke Seasonings for any amount of time knows that the True Smoke BBQ Facebook group is a major part of our lives and business. Twice a year the group holds events in La Grange, North Carolina and this falls event is scheduled for October 26th-28th.

The event will kick off Thursday afternoon when the venue opens at 12pm sharp. The cars, trucks, campers, RVs, and trailers will start pouring in and setting up their campsites for the 3-day festival. Thursday tends to be the setup and make your rounds and say hello to all the people you haven’t seen since the last event and introduce yourself to all the new ones you may meet.

Thursday night is one of the most fun because these are your diehard True Smokers and the ones who are in it for the entire weekend. The night kicks off with the first competition of the festival, and its my favorite to eat. The pizza competition first made its debut last Smoke Out and was won by Ed Swinson with Ed’s Shape Shack. He is the odds-on favorite to repeat but when it comes to True Smokers you can never be too sure on who is going to bring the flavor at these events. Thursday night will also feature a cornhole tournament with a winner take all format.

Friday morning kicks off with the famous Bryan Hanks show broadcasting live from True Smoke grounds and my favorite part of the morning which is the amazing rendition of the National Anthem by Mr. William Hardy. The first competition of the day is the pork steak and turn in for that begins at 1130am followed by the appetizer contest at 130. Brisket will be the final open competition of the day and turn in for that begins at 4pm.  New this year is something that Paul Siebert brought to David Watkins and my attention about True Smoke giving back to the community. After some back and forth we decided that the hot dog eating contest between Paul and I should be to raise money for upgrades to the True Smoke events. I can’t tell you how excited I am to take down the wonderful Mr. Siebert. The attendees will get a chance to bet on either Paul or myself on who has the best tasting hot dog.

Something new this year to Smoke Out stems from Paul’s idea of giving back to True Smoke, the admins and a few others decided on a contest for charity. It will pit a mix match of teams who have never cooked together before to present their best one bite challenge food. The teams are really stacked and should be one hell of a turn in series for the judges. Attendees will get the chance to wager on whichever team they think will win and the winning team will select a ticket with a winner of a grand prize. All proceeds for this will go to a local La Grange charity.

Finally, to end off Friday night we always have a huge creative meal on the big 7ft by 7ft pit. This year the meal will be giant pizzas. We will be making four 2ft pizzas which will be Taco, Seafood, Meat Lovers and one to be determined. These meals are always so epic, and we will have the pizza master himself, Ed Swinson guiding us along the way.

Saturday morning always smells the best when you wake up at the grounds and is always the main day of the festival. Turn ins begin with the kid’s competition starting at 11am followed by the brisket showdown between Jeffery Parkhurst and Doug Curie. Lots of chirping back and forth between these two and were all loving every minute of it. Pork Rib turn in is up next at 1pm and directly after that at 2pm is the always classic mixed drink contest. Always a ton of creative and great entries for that. The whole hog judging process begins at 3pm and this is one of the big contests with a $1,000 grand prize. Bunch of favorites this year but I always say if J-3 or David Gordon are involved you better watch out. Awards will start at 5pm and the famous homecoming meal will start 630 with the whole hogs being used as the main course and sides brought courtesy of the True Smoke family. Entertainment will be by True Smoke DJ’s.

By Sunday morning the smoke will have cleared, and the field will be empty, and the memories will have been made and last a lifetime. By Monday morning we will be talking about the Spring Fling and the best part is, Shore Smoke will be running that event again next year.

73 days and counting ladies and gentlemen.

-Ryan Stevenson