It was just one year ago that Jerry Burgin participated in his first-ever barbecue competition at Lincolntonâ€™s Hog Happenin.â€™ He won grand prize.
Since that first victory, the Alexis man has gone on to earn himself a name as a national and world champion.
â€œWe never would have done it if I hadnâ€™t gone to that Hog Happeninâ€™,â€ Burgin said.
He won his national title at a competition in the fall, which allowed him to enter the Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest.
From May 18 – 20, he cooked his heart out and placed fifth in the world in poultry. Placed before him were ducks and pheasants, but no piece of chicken could beat him.
With this success under his belt, Burgin is going back to the place it all began.
Last year, he wasnâ€™t sure he had a fighting chance. All he knew was that his neighbors enjoyed his ribs and chicken at the yearly July 4 community barbecue.
This year he has a little more confidence.
â€œThereâ€™s going to be a lot of people that are going to come by that didnâ€™t stop by before,â€ he said.
Burgin and his crew, who call themselves Bubbaâ€™s Backyard Barbecue, will be up all night preparing (hopefully) prize-winning meat.
â€œItâ€™s a long night, but itâ€™s a great night,â€ Burgin said.
The pace becomes hectic around 5 a.m. and doesnâ€™t slow until 1 p.m. when itâ€™s time to turn in the chicken and ribs.
Then comes the fun part.
â€œWhen you get done with judging, someoneâ€™s going to have to eat all that meat,â€ Burgin said.
While he canâ€™t sell the food, he can give it away. Just stop by his tent.
Those seeking advice are also invited to stop by. Burgin wonâ€™t give away the ingredients of the meatâ€™s secret sauce, which was given to him by his preacher, but he will help out fellow cooks.
Heâ€™s asked questions at every festival heâ€™s attended, and judges and competitors alike have all offered words of wisdom.
â€œJust ask questions because theyâ€™re a lot friendlier than you think they are,â€ he said. â€œA lot of them will help you out tremendously.â€
Burgin, a general contractor, has no plans to leave his job for the world of professional barbecue competition. He is, however, considering helping out a local Denver business.
Next year, he will most likely have a sponsor and enter in the professional category.
Until then, Hog Happeninâ€™, an Iron Station Elementary School cook out for his two children, and a July 4 party are the only things on his schedule.
Want to go? Hog Happeninâ€™ will take place in downtown Lincolnton Friday beginning at 6 p.m. and Saturday beginning at 10 a.m.
by Sarah Grano