If you ever needed an excuse for a road trip to Bentonville, Ark., here's a good one, at least if you're a meat-eater: The second annual Sam's Club National BBQ Tour championship is taking place there on Saturday.
Fifty teams (out of more than 650 that participated in regional events nationwide) will compete, including the Alvarado-based Smokin' Triggers, led by barbecue hall-of-famer Johnny Trigg. Not using that term loosely: Last weekend, Trigg was inducted into the National Barbecue Hall of Fame (and how did Texas miss out on that?) in Kansas City. (Here's an Alvarado Star story with a little more detail.)
Trigg has recently appeared on the TLC series BBQ Pitmasters. But references to him in our archives go back at least 20 years -- almost exactly: In October 1992, Trigg won the State Fair of Texas blue ribbon Sunday for barbecuing the best ribs in the state. Our Weekend Chef Steve Wilson saw Trigg in action earlier this year. And that's just a small fraction of the titles he has won.
But back to the Sam's Club National BBQ Tour championship (that's a mouthful, and the grilling hasn't even started). It will take place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Sam's Club corporate headquarters, 2101 SE Simple Savings Drive in Bentonville, which is roughly a seven-hour drive from Fort Worth. The national-champion team gets $50,000. The tour is sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbeque Society. Trigg's team made it to the Top 10 in last year's competition.
Each team will submit chicken, ribs, pork and brisket to be judged by a panel of 48 KCBS-Certified Barbecue Judges on taste, tenderness and appearance. The national event also features live music from Kristy Lee Cook and Hope Wilson and live grilling tips for pulled pork, ribs and brisket from nationally recognized barbecue expert and director of the Sams Club National BBQ Tour, Troy Black, author of The Big Book of BBQ. Here's a clip of Trigg from BBQ Pitmasters: