The month of May brings flowers to mind for some, but May makes me think of Memphis … and barbecue. Yes, I know, there’s always Beale Street with some top notch eating places and lots of great music. But you can hit Beale Street anytime of year. May is special. May means the Memphis in May International Barbeque Competition.
200 plus teams competing for the top prizes in ribs, shoulder and whole hogs. Teams from across the country all fighting to be judged as having the best sauce, the best rub, the best decorated booth or the in a host of other categories. There are huge smokers all going at once, cooking 80 shoulders and 50 racks of ribs at a time. The aroma of smoking pig wafts through the crowds beckoning you to follow. It’s a feast for the eyes. Wildly decorated booths and colorful characters all strewn along the shores of the mighty Mississippi. My stomach’s starting to rumble just thinking about it.
We were disappointed none of this great food was available to eat for the general public. The teams cooked for the judges, not us. (You could buy a sample plate in the food tent, and there were vendors from downtown selling lots of Q, so we didn’t starve to death.) We did manage to get on a free tour and visit several of the competitor’s booths. They were most hospitable, offering us samples of their wares and a few beers to help wash it down. It was a friendly welcome and they showed us the behind-the-scene workings of a barbecue competition. The Hogosaurus team got my vote. (They won first place for ribs.)
We had the RV in a campground in West Memphis, Arkansas. Finding a decent campground in an urban area can be a challenge and driving in heavy rush hour traffic can be nerve wracking. We find it best to set up base outside of town and use our tow car to see the sights. Tom Sawyer RV Park was perfect. Nestled along the Mississippi we sat outside our rig and watched the never ending parade of barges float by. Usually there were six or seven of them being push by a huge tugboat. 24/7, rain or shine, they just kept rollin’.
There’s lots to see and do in Memphis. Graceland is worth the price of admission. There is no shortage of good food and music on Beale Street. If you are a music buff you also want to take a tour of Sun Studio, birth place of rock and roll. From Memphis it’s east to Chattanooga and Great Smokey Mountain National Park. Or, south along highway 61 to Clarksdale, Missisippi and the Blues trail. That’s the nice thing about driving around in your house. Sometimes it takes a toss of the coin to pick the next stop.