The 17th Lakeland Pigfest is underway at Joker Marchant Stadium

The Lakeland Pigfest barbeque competition heats up

Lakeland - Barbeque tacos, barbeque eggrolls, oatmeal and bacon cookies and bacon wrapped jalapenos are on the menu today at the Lakeland Pigfest 2013.

The 17 th annual Lakeland Pigfest began last night with barbeque competition teams firing up their grills and ended with groups dancing in their tents. The fun starts all over again at 10 a.m. and continues until 5 p.m. tonight (Jan. 26). More than 30-thousand people are expected to attend this two-day event held every year at Joker Marchant Stadium, at 2301 Lakeland Hills Blvd.

The competition is open to professionals, as well as, backyard barbequers. The festival is separated into three parts: Kingston Professional BBQ competition, the Publix Backyard Competition for amateurs and the Badcock Kids-Q Competition. More 150 teams will be cooking their best to win a share of the $10,000 in prize money that will be at awarded at the festival.

Eating is the main event at the Lakeland Pigfest but there are other things to do as well. There are two stages where you can listen to bands while you eat ribs and corn-on-the -cob. ET's Barbeque brings their own band to entertain the crowd and lure people over to try some of their barbeque.

Part of the fun is walking around and just reading all the names of the competitors like Full of Bull Barbeque from Brooksville, Skin & Bones from Arcadia and Rub Me Tender from St. Petersburg.

Mike and Melanie Deweese of Rub Me Tender Memphis BBQ have lived in St. Petersburg for 14 years, but before that they lived in Memphis. The couple said in Memphis, the barbeque competitions are all about good barbeque and Elvis.  

"At the Memphis in May (barbeque competition) everyone dress up like Elvis. There are impersonators everywhere," said Melanie Deweese. So naturally, coming from Memphis, this duo had to have Elvis themed name.

Admission to Pigfest is free, but pretending you are a judge and eating all kinds of different barbeque will cost you a few "pig bucks." The festival will have booths set up to exchange cash for the "pig bucks," which can be used to buy food.

Proceeds from this event go towards supporting local charities. Some of the charities are the Reading is Fundamental program, a project of The Junior League of Greater Lakeland and Girls Incorporated, a nonprofit youth organization that provides educational programs to thousands of girls. Organizers say the event has raised more than $750,000.

For more information about this event including a list of last year's winners, visit http://lakelandpigfest.org.

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