Biloxi Main Street Executive Director, Kay Carter, knows how to excite the masses and throw one heck of a party. She is the driving force behind all the wonderful events that take place year after year in downtown Biloxi. There is never a shortage of fun, family friendly, free things to do and one of our all time favorites is Grillin’ on the Green. South Mississippi has endured one of the strangest winters on record with insanely cold temperatures and even having snow and ice on the ground! We are all beyond ready for the warmer temperatures to begin so we can get outside and enjoy everything that our beautiful coast has to offer. Circle the date on your calendars everyone because on Saturday, March 15th, from 10:00 a.m to 5:00 p.m it will be time again to cheer on your favorite Grillin’ team and chow down on some of the most scrumptious BBQ fare on the planet. The sun always shines for Grillin’ on the Green so get your family and friends together for the perfect way to kick off Spring.
The focus is always on family entertainment in the charming city of Biloxi. Kay Carter and Laurie Rosetti, Downtown Services Assistant for the City of Biloxi and Biloxi Main Street, have developed festivals and specialty events for over ten years. They made the decision to combine the Hibernia Marching Society/St. Patrick’s Day Parade with Grillin’ on the Green for one spectacular full day of fun for kids of all ages. “There is never a lull in the activities because we have so many things to do,” Kay said. There are games for the children, craft booths to visit, and non stop live music playing throughout the day. The St. Patrick’s Day Parade rolls mid afternoon, pick your favorite spot along the route and bring your lawn chairs. Catch all kinds of “green” trinkets and goodies as the floats pass by. It’s going to be a blast!
Hopefully, a light sweater will be all you need as you stroll around the streets of downtown Biloxi and visit the Town Green. The aroma of freshly grilled chicken, ribs, and brisket will fill the air and undoubtedly rule your senses. All Grillin’ teams have the option of selling their BBQ to event goers so bring your appetite and try them all. “Taking home the prize money and winning bragging rights of being the best is the goal of every participant. Trophies and big prize money are at stake and the competition is fierce,” Kay said. Grillin’ on the Green attracts a high caliber of competitors and this is very serious business. Cooking and food preparation is more popular than ever due to the many television programs that present the culinary arts on a daily basis. There is a maximum number of participants for this event and those that wish to compete must register early to secure their spot. There is over $5,000 in cash and prizes. Professional teams represent a restaurant or other food service organization. The backyard team consists of families or individuals that are non-profit and that are not in any way affiliated with a food service company.
Men always dominate the Grillin’ on the Green competition. Women do compete but there has yet to be a team made up of all women…perhaps this year that will no longer be the case. C’mon ladies! There have been some husband and wife teams registered over the years, which has been an interesting dynamic in the competition but none all female. “We have a lot of the same people compete year after year. It does not matter if you won before or not, there are no restrictions for past or present grillers,” Kay said. Each team is made up of a chief cook and as many assistants as the chief deems necessary. They must provide their own pits which is used exclusively for that particular team, as well as all supplies for their station. It is a very long list and the logistics of getting everything to the event is a challenge within itself. Each team provides their table, chairs, work surfaces, cooking equipment, utensils, propane stoves, umbrellas, tents, power cords and fire extinguisher. A team will consist of as few as two people or it can be quite large with several members. Teams must set up and dismantle their individual stations. “Grillers bring all kinds of equipment from the most elaborate and expensive down to the most simple and basic. Some grills have actually been designed and built by the contestants themselves,” Kay said.
The judges are all executive and professional chefs from local restaurants and the casinos. They all have received special training and are well versed in judging this type of competition. Grillin’ on the Green is of utmost importance to all competitors and they are very serious about the event however, it is presented in a laid back, fun atmosphere for all to enjoy. Grillers must adhere to very strict rules and regulations in order to compete.
First and foremost no cooking of any kind may begin until all meats are thoroughly inspected, in the raw state, by the USDA meat inspector on site. Meat must be presented fully wrapped and stamped with the proper US government seal in order to be acceptable. All meat must be cooked on a wood or charcoal fire grill and no pre-seasoning is permitted. Last but not least, cooks may not deep fry or parboil any meat. Each team will submit at least four separated and identifiable portions of each meat in containers to the judges at a specified and predetermined time. The deciding factors are appearance, tenderness, texture, and taste. When the judges have reached their decisions as to who the winners are in all three categories, an announcement will be made at 1:30 sharp. There is a first, second, and third place winner in each food category in each division. Trophies and prize money will also be awarded to the Grand Champion and the Best Original Sauce.
Grillin’ on the Green has been honored as a Top 20 Event for the Southeast by the Southeast Tourism Society every year since 2010. Contestants converge on Biloxi for this one special day in the hope that they will take home the coveted prize money and trophies. It is also the perfect opportunity to enjoy being outdoors in the warmth of the sun for an entire day of outstanding family entertainment.
Don’t forget to save the date! Saturday, March 15th from 10:00 a.m to 5:00 p.m. See you there!