The 2019 International Bar-B-Que Festival Mutton Glutton Sandwich Eating Competition will be held at the Festival Plaza Stage at 4 p.m. on Saturday. Each year, a few thousand spectators look on as the top-ranked competitive eaters consume as many 4-ounce mutton sliders as they can in 10 minutes.
Joey Chestnut is returning to defend his mutton-eating title after setting the Guinness Book World Record in 2017 by eating 55 sliders, and again in 2018 when he broke his own record by eating 81 sliders. This year, the highest ranked female and Nathan’s hot dog female champion Miki Sudo will join Chestnut, along with the No. 3 and No. 6 world-ranked competitive eaters.
The mutton for the contest, sponsored by Kentucky Legend, will be prepared by Jerry Morris, founder of the Angels for Ashley cooking team.
Starting Friday morning, at the corner of St. Ann and Frederica Streets, Morris will cook the mutton from scratch, something he says is the secret to creating the flavor in his meats.
“It has to be cooked at least 12 hours,” Morris said. “Some guys boil it but [there] ain’t no doubt ours has got to be better.”
Morris also cooks for St. Mary of the Woods, a team that used to compete in the Bar-B-Q Festival, but now sells their plates of food both Friday and Saturday with proceeds going to Trinity High School.
For the competition, Morris will cook 125 pounds of mutton before chopping it for the eating competition. Bar-B-Q Festival executive board members will oversee the sandwich preparation for the competition.
Morris has been responsible for the mutton for the competition for the past two years as well.
Making barbecue is not new to Morris, who has been cooking for over 30 years competitively. He still enters competitions and cooks “to see what I can win,” he said.
Morris enjoys cooking for the competition although he said that “any man who eats 20 pounds of mutton is crazy.”
“He ain’t tasting it, he’s just swallowing it,” Morris said.
This year, a production team from Croatia will be at the festival to research the backstory of the competition and conduct interviews with the competitive eaters.