Mullins BBQ Cook-off draws cooking teams for $12,500 in prize money

September 22, 2018
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Phillip Miles of the Tail-Gater Hater cooking team traveled from Lake City to compete representing Fourth Annual Golden Leaf Festival BBQ Cook-off on September 21, 2018.

MULLINS, S.C. — The fourth annual Golden Leaf Festival BBQ Cook-off goes on as schedule despite the canceling of the 36th annual Golden Leaf Festival because of Hurricane Florence.

Organizers welcomed more than 20 cooking teams for the South Carolina Barbecue Association-sanctioned event with $12,500 in prize money up for grabs.

The “Anything Butt BBQ” and BBQ Cook-off got off to a hot start Friday with a performance from the Holiday Band as teams served a variety of special dishes that weren’t barbecue.

Holly Jackson of the Golden Leaf Festival committee said the event continues to grow.

“We have 20 of the best teams around coming to compete and they will be cooking all day,” Jackson said. “People can come listen to the band and taste things starting at 7 p.m. and the band will play until 10 p.m. Friday night.”

Jackson said the cook-off has consistently had better attendance and cooking teams.

“We’re paying down to fifth place, which is really something special,” she said.

Phillip Miles traveled from Lake City to compete representing Tail-Gater Hater. The team won the grand championship in the inaugural event in 2015.

“It was awesome,” he said of winning the first event. On Friday night, Miles and company presented fried jalapeno and macaroni and cheese.

“They go out of their way to help you with anything you need. You set up in a nice location and got great food right down the road. It’s all you can ask for,” Miles said. “This is the highest paying SCBA event of the year.”

Tail-Gater Hater has its own competition sauce and competes at least 15 times a year.

Austin Williams traveled from Savannah, Georgia, to compete in his third competition at just 18 years old.

“We just got into barbecue and just doing a bunch of research online we found out that there was a barbecue competition and found something close to us and that happen to be the S.C. Barbecue Association,” he said. “It’s pretty exciting. It’s a little intimidating because all these people pulled up with all of these trailers and RV’s.” His dad, Jimmy Williams, built a smoker which led to Austin making his own for his birthday. “We just cook about every weekend and then we do these competitions,” Austin Williams said, adding that he’s placed second place in ribs already.

Williams and the Smokerz BBQ team fell in love with cooking and joined SCBA because of what they called a level playing field.

“All of the South Carolina competitions are closer to us,” Jimmy Williams said.

The team prepared a pineapple upside-down cake for the “Anything Butt BBQ” challenge.

The big cook-off follows today with judging set for 11 a.m. Visitors can purchase wrist bands to sample all of the food.

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