by Susan Ellis
“Ducks Unlimited is 73 years old this year,” says Ducks Unlimited regional director Will Johnson, explaining why the organization decided to hold a barbecue contest. “Our fund-raising model includes auctions and raffles. We were looking for new ways to engage the public.”
Johnson says that while Ducks Unlimited already has a structure in place for holding events, the barbecue contest presented new challenges. This is why they reached out to the Memphis Barbecue Network (MBN).
“They’ve been fantastic with providing leadership and guidance,” Johnson says.
Both Johnson and Randy McGee of MBN say that the two groups have members with overlapping interests.
“The demographics … there are a lot of similarities,” says McGee of the members of Ducks Unlimited and the Memphis Barbecue Network.
The contest will include two divisions: MBN for more competitive cooks and Patio Porker for those who are more casual. Those in the MBN division are competing for the Grand Championship, the winner of which qualifies for the MBN Championships to held later in the year.
And there will be barbecue duck as part of the “Anything But” contests, which also includes beef, poultry, seafood, chicken wings, and sauce.
As part of the festival, there will be duck-calling contest, “ducky dice,” and “pluck a duck” There will also be raffles, a silent auction, and a Ducks Unlimited sidewalk sale.
Johnson says they’re aiming for 40 teams in the MBN division and 20 teams in the Patio Porkers division.
Johnson points out that the event is just a few weeks before Memphis in May’s World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest.
“This will give teams a warm-up for Memphis in May,” he says.
For more information, go to bbq.ducks.org.