Sky Full of Bacon


Sky Full of Bacon 21: Woodsmoke Nation

In this Sky Full of Bacon I embed with a barbecue competition in downstate Illinois to experience the world of championship BBQ teams.

Go inside the world of competitive barbecue in this edition of Sky Full of Bacon. Mike Mills of Murphysboro, Illinois was co-captain of the winningest team in BBQ history, three time Memphis in May Grand World Champions, and 2012 was the 25th anniversary of his BBQ competition Praise the Lard. Meet the teams, hear their secrets, and join in the camaraderie and tension of competition as 75 teams compete for the title and demonstrate how BBQ brings people together. As Mike Mills likes to say, “I’m pretty sure the spaghetti people don’t get together like this.” (26:58)

Here’s the site for 17th Street Bar & Grill, sponsor of the contest, and for this year’s competition which will be September 19-21. Here’s Mike Mills’ and Amy Mills Tunnicliffe’s book Peace Love & Barbecue.

I shot both stills and video there— for basically about 28 hours straight except for sleep, something I plan not to do again— and here’s the original slideshow I put up right afterwards at Grub Street Chicago. (Don’t look at it until after the movie if you want to preserve the suspense of who wins, though.) Dave Raymond of Sweet Baby Ray’s— who’s in the film briefly when Duce’s Wild is brought the news of its results— also posted a very moving firsthand account of the contest, using my pictures, here.

As it says at the end, I’ve made other films about barbecue. Here’s one about African-American barbecue in Chicago; here’s one about Texas barbecue.

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