Pig Iron BBQ Challenge on Oct. 19 supports Children’s Harbor. Vulcan Materials Company participates for 22nd year. Get the deets here.

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Birmingham, Alabama, Vulcan Materials Company, Pig Iron BBQ Challenge, Children's Harbor
Vulcan Materials Company’s “Haunted Hog Asylum”-themed tent at the 2017 Pig Iron BBQ Challenge. Photo submitted

It’s one of the oldest barbecue competitions in Birmingham, and it is all for a good cause. Children’s Harbor is a local nonprofit that provides essential free services to seriously ill children and their families. Come out to see Vulcan Materials Company throw down with more than 30 corporate teams at the 22nd Annual Pig Iron BBQ Challenge at the Hoover Met on Friday, October 19 from 5 to 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 and kids 12 and under get in free.

The Details

Birmingham, Alabama, Vulcan Materials Company, Pig Iron BBQ Challenge, Children's Harbor
Pork sliders at the Pig Iron BBQ Challenge. Photo submitted
  • Event: Children’s Harbor Pig Iron BBQ Challenge 2018
  • Where: Hoover Met RV lot, 100 Ben Chapman Dr, Hoover, AL 35244
  • When: Friday, Oct. 19, 5 to 8 p.m. (That’s the public tasting. Competitors get there as early as 4 a.m. because good ‘cue is done low and slow!)
  • Tickets: $20 at the gate (Kids 12 and under get in free.)
  • Free Parking: lot in front of the Finley Center
  • Award categories: ribs, Boston butts, sauce and tent decorating (Last year, the Vulcan Materials team went with a Halloween-appropriate “Haunted Hog Asylum” theme. This year, expect to see them swinging to the ’50s.)

The Cause: Children’s Harbor

Birmingham, Alabama, Children's Harbor, Pig Iron BBQ Challenge, Lake Martin
Children’s Harbor park and retreat facility on Lake Martin. Photo submitted

Children’s Harbor provides children with serious illnesses and their families a place to be themselves, have fun and relax while receiving no-cost services that make life a bit easier.

The serene, 66-acre Children’s Harbor campus on Lake Martin allows kids to be kids and families to reconnect. It includes a handicap-accessible treehouse and a zero entry swimming pool (no steps, only a gentle slope into the water).

In Birmingham, Children’s Harbor has a facility within Children’s of Alabama. That means that without leaving the hospital, families have a place to unwind between treatments. There are play areas and interactive activities, as well as an exercise room, a hair salon and a laundry facility.

Birmingham, Alabama, Children's Harbor, Children's of Alabama
Children’s Harbor at Children’s of Alabama. Photo submitted

Children’s Harbor also provides educational support and mental health services through life and illness-specific counselors—all at no cost to the families. More than 30 local corporate teams, including Vulcan, help make that possible by participating in the Pig Iron BBQ Challenge each year. The event draws 8,000 people annually.

“It is one of the biggest fundraisers we do, and this is the 22nd year we’ve done it,” said Erin Slaughter, special events coordinator at Children’s Harbor.

“All the funds raised by Pig Iron help us continue to offer our services free of charge. A lot of people use these as a corporate picnic for their teams, but in the long run, they’re coming out here to support Children’s Harbor and what we do.”

Secret’s In The Sauce

Birmingham, Alabama, Vulcan Materials Company, Pig Iron BBQ Challenge, Children's Harbor
Swing by the Vulcan Materials tent for ribs and pork sliders. Photo submitted

Each year, a 13-person team from Vulcan Materials Company cooks 400 pounds of ribs and 12 butts on two large smokers for the Pig Iron BBQ Challenge.

The competition is friendly, but the recipes are highly prized. Just ask Joey Dunnie, customer service supervisor in Vulcan’s Southern & Gulf Coast Division. He’s the “sauce man.”

“Our sauce is a ketchup base, but that’s as much as I can tell you,” said Dunnie, who is only the second person to take on that mantle in Vulcan’s 22-year history competing in the Pig Iron. When his predecessor passed on the recipe, he purposely left out a couple of things.

“He said I’m not telling what I left out, but here are the basics. It took some time, but the year before last we won best sauce! So we’ve perfected it a little bit.” 

Like A Big Family

Birmingham, Alabama, Vulcan Materials Company, Pig Iron BBQ Challenge, Children's Harbor
Shreddin’ pork for the Pig Iron BBQ Challenge. Photo submitted

If you come out to the Children’s Harbor Pig Iron BBQ Challenge on Oct. 19, be sure to stop by Vulcan’s 1950s diner-themed tent and say “hi” to Billy Doster, plant manager at its Lakeshore Quarry.  He’ll feed you and make you smile.

“We’ve always enjoyed it whether or not we take home any trophies.  We have a good time with everybody. If we can get them to smile or laugh while they’re walking by, we’ve already won something,” Doster said.

For Vulcan, that’s what participating in the Pig Iron is all about—connecting employees to the community. The Pig Iron is only one of the ways Vulcan gives back locally in Birmingham and coast to coast.

“Vulcan’s Pig Iron group, we’re like a family. We enjoy being out there together,” said Steve Jackson, building supervisor at Vulcan’s Corporate Office. “Everybody wants to give back and works to do their part to make the day a success.”

An All-American Classic—Supersized

Hoover, Alabama, Pig Iron BBQ Challenge, Children's Harbor, world's largest apple pie
Holy moly, that’s a big pie. Photo submitted

The Pig Iron BBQ Challenge brings the whole Birmingham metro community together to support Children’s Harbor. And for the occasion, the city of Hoover pulls out its specialty: an apple pie big enough to feed 8,000 people. If you’re wondering how they get it into the oven, the answer is a forklift.

How can you resist? Come on out for ’cue and fun at the Children’s Harbor Pig Iron BBQ Challenge on Friday, Oct. 19, from 5 to 8 p.m., at the Hoover Met.

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