Barbecue Event to Be More `Official'

By Merissa Green
The Ledger

LAKE ALFRED -- The stakes are higher for the second Barbecue by the Lake.

Unlike last year, the competition will be sanctioned by the Florida Barbecue Association.

This means the May 21 event will probably attract more professional teams and participants will be eligible for points that will help qualify them for national cook-off competitions.

"This is really a big deal for us," said Fire Chief Roger Pridgen. "I'm pretty proud of it.

"I'm just hoping we'll get a lot of people to show up," he said.

The event, sponsored by the Lake Alfred Fire Department, will be held at Lions Park.

Pridgen said the Fire Department had to pay FBA $400 to have the event sanctioned. The local business community has contributed donations to cover the cash prizes and the cost of the event.

Pridgen said the money raised from the competition will help pay for training for volunteer firefighters. The money was used last year to buy fire equipment.

The number of teams that participate has grown. Last year, 19 teams competed.

The Fire Department has already had 30 teams express an interest in participating this year.

"The guys who came last year talked favorably about it," said Don Livingston, a co-organizer for the event who lives in Haines City.

The competition has five categories: chicken, ribs, pork, shoulder/butts and brisket. The entry fee is $50 for professional teams and $25 for amateur, also known as backyard cookers, per category.

Winning amateurs will receive trophies.

The cash prizes for professionals are:


Grand champion, $1,500.


Reserve champion, $1,000.


First place in each category, $250.


Second place in each category, $200.


Third place in each category, $150.


Fourth place in each category, $100.

The judges will be selected by FBA.

Teams will be able to set up May 19. There will be a mandatory cooks' meeting May 20 followed by a dinner for participating teams.

For more information, call 863291-5202.

For contest rules, go to www.flbbq.org.

Merissa Green can be reached at merissa.green@theledger.com or 863-401-6968