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Quest for the best BBQ in Alabama

Vote online for your favorite Alabama barbecue restaurant at Facebook.com/AlabamaFood during the NCAA March Madness Basketball Tournament.
Montgomery, Ala. — Thirty-two Alabama barbecue restaurants are competing in the second annual Alabama Barbecue Bracket sponsored by the state tourism department. This year’s bracket competition is divided by barbecue specialties —chicken, ribs, sauce and pork, allowing voters to go online and select their favorite barbecue restaurant based on these categories. The competition coincides with the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament.

Starting on Monday, March 17, voters will be able to cast their online votes for the state’s best barbecue at Facebook.com/AlabamaFood. The 32 participating restaurants were selected based on social media polling that was conducted last fall. Polling was conducted by category as nominations were sought for best chicken, ribs, sauce and pork statewide. The restaurants in contention are seeded according to their barbecue specialties and will be judged by the category they are most famous for rather than against their local or regional competition.

“Barbecue is part of our heritage,” said Alabama Tourism Director Lee Sentell. “The culinary tradition and cultural impact of our world-class barbecue make this bracket a source of local pride for Alabamians. In the inaugural Alabama Barbecue Bracket, voters determined which restaurant has the best barbecue in the state, but now voters will determine what defines the most iconic Alabama barbecue dish,” said Sentell. “Whether that’s a rack of ribs, smoked chicken, pulled pork or white sauce, this year’s bracket will shed light on the dishes that make our state’s barbecue portfolio so diverse. We’re excited to see what the voters define as truly the best.”

Each head-to-head matchup between restaurants will last for 48 hours for a total of 28 days. The restaurants with the most votes will advance to the Sweet 16, the Elite Eight and the Final Four. The Final Four will be comprised of Alabama’s best chicken, pork, sauce and ribs. While one restaurant will take home the overall winner title, the Final Four remaining restaurants will be named winners of their respective food categories.

Online voting for the Final Four competitors to determine the state’s ultimate barbecue champion will take place from Apr. 2 through Apr. 7. The winning restaurant will be named “Alabama’s Ultimate Barbecue Champion” on Monday, Apr. 7 — the same day as the NCAA’s Men’s Division I Basketball Championship. The winner will receive a trophy to proudly display, and more importantly year-long bragging rights.

You can learn more about the Alabama Barbecue Bracket and Alabama culinary destinations and events at ILoveAlabamaFood.com.

The Alabama Tourism Department (ATD) helps ensure that Alabama’s economy gains maximum benefits from tourism. More than 24 million travelers spent a combined total of $11 billion in the state in 2013, supporting the jobs of more than 163,000 Alabamians. The agency was created in October 1951 by legislative act to promote travel to and through Alabama. It does this both nationally and internationally. ATD is funded by one-fourth of the 4 percent state lodgings tax collected by hotels, motels, campgrounds and other accommodations.

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