It’s fall in Raleigh, North Carolina, and that means bluegrass (International Bluegrass Music Association’s World of Bluegrass), beer (craft, preferably) and, of course, barbecue.

On Friday and Saturday, Sept. 29-30, the North Carolina Pork Council sponsors 30 of the best barbecuers from across the state will descend on Raleigh for the 32nd Annual Whole Hog Barbecue Championship. Just follow the tempting aroma of roasting pork to the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts Courtyard, 2 E South St., beginning at 4 p.m. on Friday. The whole hogs will be delivered for cooking up around 7 p.m.

After cooking over night, the judges will get to sample what the contestants have to offer around 9 a.m. on Saturday and then the contest winners will be announced. Then the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle will sell the remaining pork in the form of sandwiches at the Raleigh Convention Center’s Cabarrus Crossroads. Proceeds from the sale will go to hunger relief programs.

The event is the culmination of more than 20 contests across North Carolina, hundreds of hours cooking and more pounds of barbecue than one can count. Each contest used rules and judges sanctioned by the N.C. Pork Council. Pork lovers can meet these dedicated chefs, learn about their craft and see who will be named the 2017 Whole Hog Barbecue Champion. The 2016 Pitmaster of the Year and Whole Hog Barbecue Champion Chris Fineran will once again be among those competing for the title, according to organizers.

North Carolina Pork Council (NCPC) Certified judges are Brownie Futrell, Keith Fuller, Charlie Martin, Jason Hembree (Carolina BBQ League), Lubin Prevatte, Jason Smith, chef and proprietor of 18 Restaurant Group (including 18 Seaboard, Cantina 18, and Harvest 18) and Fred Thompson, cookbook author, culinary instructor, food stylist, and freelance writer.

The contest is part of the 2017 Wide Open Bluegrass Festival, a multi-day urban bluegrass music festival full of tunes, shopping, drinks and food in downtown Raleigh.

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