Local teams add fuel to barbecue competition’s fire

Smoky, sweet and spicy aromas will drift into the air around Sloss Furnaces in downtown Birmingham this weekend. Eighty–four teams plan to set up makeshift kitchens and vie for the title of best barbecue team at the annual Stokin’ the Fire barbecue competition Saturday.

Gabriel Wren and his buddies Chuck Danford, David Elliot and Michael Ritter plan to make a statement with their secret recipe for ribs.

“We had seen the turnout they’ve had in recent years and just thought it would be a fun thing to do, to go compete,” Wren said. “It’s a good excuse to go drink some beer and cook some good food.”

Almost a dozen Shelby County teams signed up to compete.

Wren and his gang plan to arrive at Sloss Furnace Friday morning at 9 a.m. They’ll set up and get to work on the first competition’s food –– hamburgers and desserts. Before they know it, the crew will throw on ribs and chicken. Not much sleeping will actually occur Friday night. Wren said they’ll set up lawn chairs and just hang out.

Wren said the team’s specialty is ribs. He wouldn’t give away their secret, but he said it’s good.

“Ours is mainly due to the rub we put on them,” he said. “They turn out smoky and semi–sweet and spicy.”

The judging for that category is set for around 3 p.m. Saturday. At 4 p.m., the public gets the chance to vote on their favorite pulled pork samples by placing $1 in the team’s jar.

Other Shelby County–based teams competing include Rib Cage from Helena, Upper Deck Tailgating from Alabaster, Southern Jesters from Wilsonville, Unwired from Birmingham, Free the Butts from Birmingham, JoDaddy and Big A’s Finest from Helena, Butt Patrol from Hoover, Hogs and Hank from Chelsea, Hale’s Hogs from Chelsea and Butt Rubbers from Alabaster.

The winners will receive $400, $200 and $100 prizes with the remaining funds going towards the Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark preservation effort.

Adult tickets are $20 for the weekend, $15 for Saturday. For more details, call 324–1911.