People flock to world championship barbecue cooking contest in Memphis

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Memphis in May BBQ Fest is now underway, and the competition is just beginning.

"This is the world championship that everyone wants to take part in or be part of the spectacle," Robert Griffin, the director of marketing at Memphis in May, said.

The reputation speaks for itself, over the next four days the aroma of smoked meat overtakes Riverside drive.

225 teams are competing this year. Almost everyone of them is all set up.

Each team is vying for the title and hoping to tickle taste buds with their own style of finger licking good barbecue.

"Teams are buying bigger and bigger spaces, because they want a bigger presence at the world championship," Griffin said.

Teams from 22 states and four countries are at this year's competition.

The event also features the "smoking jokers" from Australia brought to Memphis by the woman with the most wins in barbecue.

"I wanted to sponsor a team to come. They wanted to come to Memphis in May and barbecue has good to me, so why not give back a little bit," Melissa Cookston said.

Cookston says she's excited to expose them to what she calls the best in barbeque.

"Memphis is the utopia of barbecue."

As these grill masters prep their grills and the intensity heats up, organizers say the great taste will draw people in. It's the experience as
a whole that makes BBQ fest so memorable.

"It is always great to win, but even if you don't walk away with a win, you still had a great time," competitor John Denman, with Moody Ques, said.

Gates opened Wednesday evening.

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