Smokin Ghost BBQ Pro Grand Champions

The seventh annual Sip & Swine BBQ Festival benefiting Home of Hope at Gwinnett Children’s Shelter was held at Coolray Field on Friday, March 4, and Saturday, March 5.

The massive outdoor festival, which offered free parking and admission, featured live music, local craft vendors and a litany of food and beverages, all highlighted by the barbecue competition for all levels of backyard cooking enthusiasts.

A main stage crowded with patrons enjoying their delicious food hosted musical performances by School of Rock, Chainsaw Hunnie, Georgia Red Clay and Pickup Line.

Food trucks and smokehouses from across the state gathered to serve an eclectic variety of cuisine from Jamaican fare to Greek gyros, sweet treats and of course plenty of southern barbecue.

For many of these pitmasters, barbecue isn’t a job, but a lifestyle. 

“My grandad owned a barbecue restaurant, my dad worked there, and I spent a lot of time there when I was growing up,” said Robert Bentley, owner of BentWilly’s BBQ Co.

His Dacula-based barbecue restaurant has only been open for about four months, but already they’re impressing diners with their smoked ribs and cheesecakes.

The main event of the festival, however, was the annual barbecue competition. Pitmasters could compete in the Backyard or the Professional competitions, and cash prizes were awarded for the categories of best chicken, ribs, pork, and brisket, as well as for the overall barbecue grand champion.

In the chicken category, No Lookin’ Cookin’ won the Backyard division, and the Professional contest went to Meat Me In St. Louis.

For ribs, the Backyard winner was the Tallulah Falls School Pit Vipers, and Sweet Dixie BBQ won the Pro competition.

The best Backyard pork went to Heavy Smokers, and the Professional winner was Smokin Ghost BBQ. This category also featured a People’s Choice contest, which went to Pop N Chubby’s BBQ.

For the brisket category, Smokin Sweetmeats won the Professional contest.

The grand prize of $500 for the Backyard Grand Champion went to Dogpatch Q, followed by the Tallulah Falls School Pit Vipers as reserve champions. The $2,500 grand prize for the Professionals went to Smokin Ghost BBQ with Sweet Dixie BBQ taking the $1,000 second place award.

It was another sunny, successful and highly enjoyable year for Sip & Swine, and all of the proceeds from the festival went to Home of Hope at Gwinnett Children’s Shelter to benefit homeless children and their mothers.

FEATURED PHOTO: Smokin Ghost BBQ was named Grand Champion in the Professional division during the seventh annual Sip & Swine BBQ Festival on Saturday, March 5, 2022, at Coolray Field. 

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