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Local team set to compete this weekend at Great Americana BBQ Festival

Sweet Southern Swine is ready to fire up the smoker

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Upwards of 80 competitors will set up at Harlinsdale Farm this weekend for the fourth annual Great Americana BBQ Festival. 

Competitors bring their campers, grills and families for the Kansas City Barbecue Society sanctioned competition. Professional and backyard teams compete for money, and the pro teams are also in it to advance to the prestigious Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitational Barbecue. 

One of the local teams competing in this year’s event is Sweet Southern Swine. The growing team of five is comprised of Downtown Franklin Rotary members who have a passion for grilling. 

At the helm of the smoker is Billy Kreager, who considers himself a “foodie” and is constantly grilling out on his large smoker he bought for competitions and community events. 

“I just like to barbecue, and I had some other friends who were into competitions too,” Kreager said. “We’ve done it every year they have had it.”

The past three years have been a learning experience for the team; however, Kreager is hopeful that improvement is on the horizon this year. 

“First year, we didn’t do too good. There was a lot of learning to do that first year,” he said. “Second year, we did a lot better in each category, and hoping to do better this year.”

In years past, the team has scored high in the chicken category, Kreager explained, but the ribs category is a source of pride. 

“There’s a pride factor that goes into the ribs,” he said. “Everybody wants to do well in the ribs.”

While some people are asleep around midnight, that is the golden hour for the team to start preparing their smoker and meat. 

“The best time that I have experienced at these competitions is between midnight to 3 a.m.,” Kreager said. “All of the teams are getting their grills fired up, getting the heat set, getting the meats prepped and they’re putting them on somewhere around 3 to 4 a.m.”

The team’s motto of “follow the smoke” will be reaffirmed this weekend as they compete. 

“I love to see the smoke coming out of the stack on our smoker,” Kreager said. “It obviously smells good and translates into eating good.”

While Kreager projects the team to improve in the rankings this year, the fellowship among his teammates is what he enjoys the most. 

“We enjoy cooking, the companionship and enjoy each other’s company,” he said. “We’re always looking to improve, and I think we will do well this year. We’ve got a recipe this year that I’m excited about.”

The Great Americana BBQ Festival will take place Saturday, Aug. 24, and The Flavor of Franklin on Friday evening, Aug. 23. 

See the Herald’s previous story for more event details here: http://www.williamsonherald.com/features/entertainment/harlinsdale-poised-for-smokin-showdown/article_6347df36-beea-11e9-84e2-6b429b0c8a9d.html.

For more information about the event, visit http://www.greatamericanabbqfestival.com.

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