From the Black Belt to the Wiregrass to The Shoals, we crisscrossed our great state stopping only for pork ribs. It was heaven on earth for a Southern food lover.
I was on a tasty mission to discover Alabama’s best pork ribs with two other judges – Daniel Tubbs, an Alabama pig farmer, and Bob Plaster, who is a competitive cook. We were riding with Marlee Moore, Guy Hall and Debra Davis from the Alabama Farmers Federation.
Bama’s Best Pork Ribs was an inaugural statewide contest sponsored by the Alabama Pork Producers, which is a division of the Alabama Farmers Federation (the state’s largest farm organization with more than 357,000 members). The contest began with a social media campaign, and people posted their nominations on Facebook and Instagram.
We took two days to visit the Final Four and ultimately name Smokin’ on the Boulevard in Florence our winner. Heard’s BBQ & Soul Food in Maplesville in Chilton County got the People’s Choice Award for receiving the most nominations. Wiley’s Smuteye Grill in the tiny town of Smuteye in Bullock County and Whillard’s BBQ & Grill in Marion in Perry County rounded out our top four for various delicious reasons.
I had the absolute pleasure of representing Alabama NewsCenter on this delicious journey, which took me by Civil War monuments, the former site of Jim’s Funk Junction (now, incongruously, a law office), dozens of peach stands and one good-looking bird dog statue. Looking along the highways, I noticed that armadillos are having a tough spring. On a brighter note: Queen Anne’s lace, showy primrose and goldenrod are everywhere.
The people we met, those folks cooking these award-winning ribs, were the real draw on this journey. I was blown away by their stories and by the incredible support their communities have shown them.
You can read the entire story here.
Whillard’s BBQ & Grill
12267 Highway 5, Marion, 36756
Heard’s BBQ & Soul Food
8341 Alabama Highway 22, Maplesville, 36750
Wiley’s Smuteye Grill
14162 County Road 35, Banks, 36005
Smokin’ on the Boulevard
4080 U.S. Highway 72 (Florence Boulevard), Florence, 35634