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Memphis on My Mind

Ardie DavisArdie A. Davis

BBQ Hall of Famer

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The 42ndAnnual Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest theme is “Game of Bones.”  This year’s Memphis in May Salute honors the 200thAnniversary of the City of Memphis. Like they said in 2017, “It’s a Pig Deal.” When meat fire smoke blankets Tom Lee Park and wafts upward to nearby Beale Street, it is Mardi Gras Barbecue time in Bluff City!

The Memphis in May barbecue cooking contest has been my can’t-miss destination since 1987, minus a few years when other priorities intervened. In 1987 I was a gofer for Team Kansas City. After that, I took the Memphis in May judge certification class and have had the honor of judging whole hog, shoulder, ribs and Patio Porkers over the past three decades. In addition to the quality of the barbecue and the sights and sounds of the city, it’s the people of Memphis and the barbecue community that make Memphis in May so special. It feels like a family reunion.

The 42ndAnnual is extra special to me. My son, Lee, will experience Memphis in May with me for his first time at the barbecue contest and the City of Memphis. Of course I have a long to-do list of people I want him to meet, places to eat and places to visit. I will share some highlights next month.

Meanwhile, check out the recipes in this month’s National Barbecue News and plan your Father’s Day menu. If you’re lucky, a loved one will prepare it for you. If your loved ones are lucky, you will prepare the menu for them!

Ardie’sMemphis To-Do-List (complete with links)


3965 Summer Avenue – 5 am to 2 pm, Wed. thru Sunday


  • Arcade– Memphis’ oldest restaurant

540 South Main Street


  • Rendezvous (dinner) (John Vergos, Charlie’s brother; Calvin, head waiter; Nick, Charlie’s son….)

52 South 2nd

  • Payne’s BBQ (lunch)

1762 Lamar Avenue

1802 Elvis Presley Blvd.

Cozy Corner Memphis


735 North Parkway – Tues. – Sat. 11 to 8

 (Raymond & Desiree Robinson, founders)


1286 Union Avenue (Regular pork shoulder, $3.95)





The Bar B Q shop Memphis

1782 Madison Avenue  – BBQ Spaghetti (Brady Vincent of Brady & Lil’s)



5465 Fox Plaza Drive

299 South Main Street (near the Civil Rights Museum)


  • Sun Studio – 10 a.m. to 6 pm; tours optional: $14 per ticket 

706 Union Avenue, at the corner of Union & Marshall

149 Union Avenue

450 Mulberry Street

gift shop on Main near Pearl’s

163 Beale Street

1 Bass Pro Drive

Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest

Tom Lee Park

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