Some might say the magic is in the sauce, but real barbeque enthusiasts know that the real secret in handling pork is how it is smoked. At the 3rd annual Smoke on the Harbor event at the Charleston Harbor Resort and Marina last Saturday Nov. 15, there was nothing short of knowledgeable pit masters and delicious barbecue each way you turned.
I have always had a profound love of sweet and succulent pulled pork or chicken barbecue, so when I heard this competition was coming to Charleston, it was clear what I would be doing during my Saturday. This two day competition featured a wings competition on Friday, and a pulled pork and ribs competition on Saturday. Admission was a separate cost than food tasting tickets, but if you brought five canned goods, the price of the admission ticket was five dollars cheaper, and all proceeds went to the Lowcountry Food Bank. Each sample of barbecue from each station was a one ounce sample, yet more often than not, I found myself with a heaping portion of pulled pork thanks to the generous Southern hospitality displayed by all the participants.
From the time I arrived, to the time I left, the scent of smoky barbecue trailed me. The location of the event, on The Lookout Pavilion at Patriot’s Point, provided beautiful scenery along with the live music that filled the air on the breezy afternoon. To add to the fun, there was a cocktail competition, vendors and a drop off where children could play. Students from the College also volunteered at the event and tremendously helped the whole weekend of events run smoothly.
But the event is sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbeque Society, so why bring it to The Holy City? “We wanted to bring a world class bbq competition to Charleston; we approached the Kansas City Barbeque Society since they are the world’s largest organization of barbeque and grilling enthusiasts. Charleston is on the map for good food and a great town, and we have a great venue,” comments Amy Smith, a representative from the event.
Not only on the peninsula, but in surrounding regions of the Charleston area, there lies a plethora of amazing barbecue restaurants. The event not only showcased some of the amazing barbecue that Charleston restaurants have to offer, but freelance barbecue enthusiasts as well.
“Having the Kansas City Barbeque Society name associated with our competition, we have teams from all over the U.S. that want to be involved, from season veterans to backyard BBQer’s. Luckily, through word of mouth from past competitors as well as teams that are looking to gain exposure and points to be able to compete in other KCBS sanctioned events around the country led them to compete in our event here in Charleston. We even have a waiting list, and the reason for that is because we need to make sure to keep the quality of the event by giving the teams proper space.”
Although the event was truly for the sheer love of barbecue, there were judges lining up to critique and assess all the entries. While there were only wings, pulled pork, and select few ribs for the public to eat, the judges sampled all that plus pulled chicken and
brisket, so there would be a variety of barbecued meats to choose from. As far as what qualifies for a winning butt, the judges take in consideration presentation, taste, texture and proper cooking techniques. Since the judges are from the Kansas City Barbeque Society, earning a title of winning barbeque from them is a huge honor.
At the end of the day, Smoke on the Harbor was more than just an event to taste a surfeit of barbeque: “this event does reflect the Southern culture. Once you say Charleston, SC and BBQ, people come in great moods, remain polite like the locals, respect other teams and their personal beliefs and really just want to enjoy a good time and get to know other people.”