With summer in full swing, that means warm weather, fun, cookouts and for Herscher, its fourth annual Squeals Barbecue Competition on Saturday, July 13.
Dan Martin, of Herscher, said he and a friend started the competition for fun.
“Me and Jeff Long, who helps me with running it, are just a couple of guys who like to barbeque and thought it would be fun to do it on a fun and competitive scale,” Martin said. “Everyone wants to win, but we’re more concerned with everyone having a good time.”
He said the competition hasn’t changed since it has started but has grown every year with the number of competitors. The first year started with 15 and grew to 24 the previous year with room to grow this year.
He said they supply the meat and the boxes for judging. Each team cooks baby back ribs, chicken thighs, and a pork shoulder. Each team must cook all three and turned in at different times for judging.
The experience of the competition he said is casual.
“It’s like a tailgate feeling while they’re here. Guys pull out bean bag boxes and play bean bags while their meat is cooking and bring other meat to cook and share with other competitors,” Martin said.
Competitors even come from different states and parts of Illinois to Martin’s competition.
“One of our teams comes from the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area and to the south, we have a team that comes out of Saint Joe’s near Champaign to compete,” He said. “The cool thing is all these competitors from far away have a connection to the area.”
Martin said judging will consist on the number of entrants and how he decides to split them up and has a professional judge, a backyard judge and anyone who is interested in seeing what the competition is about. He has had barbecue restaurant owners, food truck owners, an executive chef and barbecue enthusiasts as judges.
He said while there aren’t any real expectations, he wants to keep his bases covered while ensuring everyone has a good time.
The event is sponsored by the Herscher Chamber of Commerce. The competition starts at 2 pm and ends at 5 pm and is free to attend.