Things We Care About

“Smoking” For A Cause | Tampa Pig Jig

Kayla Ford Kayla Ford 3 min read
“Smoking” For A Cause | Tampa Pig Jig

The Wondersign team is very competitive and loves to “smoke” the competition, sometimes even literally. Case in point: When everybody else is fast asleep, softly slumbering into yet another relaxing weekend, a few #teamwondersign members are firing up their smokers and grills at 4:30am, going up against 49 other corporate teams in a BBQ competition.

 

Sunrise over downtown Tampa and tents at the BBQ competition

The BBQ competition area in Curtis Hixon waterfront park.

 

By the time the sun rises over downtown Tampa, our part-time pit masters have already been hard at work for over 3 hours. One of the categories of the corporate BBQ competition is brisket, which takes 8 or even 10 or 12 hours on the smoker. There’s no way around “low and slow”. Shortcuts and impatience only lead to poor results – ask our home cook executives about their 4-hour brisket attempts. Not everything can be optimized, streamlined, and automated.

 

Pit masters apply seasoning on "wild card" entry.

Executive decisions about the amount of cayenne pepper on the “wild card” entry. CTO Chris Reinhard and CRO Casper Fopp getting ready to turn in pork belly burnt ends.

 

What in the world is a “Pig Jig”?

 

The Tampa Pig Jig is an annual fundraiser event hosted on downtown Tampa’s beautiful waterfront featuring live music, great food, a corporate BBQ competition, drinks and games. The event benefits NephCure Kidney International, the only non-profit organization committed to supporting research, improving treatment and finding a cure for the debilitating kidney disease, FSGS (Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis) and Nephrotic Syndrome.

 

How it all started

 

In 2008 Tampa native, Will was diagnosed with an aggressive form of FSGS, a rare and debilitating kidney disease which quickly led to total kidney failure. Will suffered from severe symptoms rendering him bedridden and later led to a kidney transplant. While the transplant was successful at first, the disease quickly took hold of the new kidney and Will faces life on dialysis – until a cure is found.

 

 

A close-knit group of friends rallied together to create a simple BBQ fundraiser event to raise money for NephCure Kidney International, the only non-profit organization committed to finding a cure for FSGS and Nephrotic Syndrome. What began as a simple backyard BBQ has grown into the Tampa Pig Jig on the River, an annual waterfront blowout with great bands, delicious food, fun games, and thousands of attendees.

 

Wondersign for the Win

 

While our customers have adopted our hashtag #winningwithwondersign, the Pig Jig is not about winning that medal. Or, let’s rephrase that: winning the BBQ competition at the Pig Jig is secondary. It’s all about being able to contribute to a great and important cause. We all might take our freedoms for granted, because they weren’t taken away from us. With our engagement at the Pig Jig we want to remind everyone around us:

 

Will, and so many other patients, are sentenced to life on dialysis until a cure is found.

 

The very least we can do is bringing together coworkers, families, friends, partners, customers, and other interested guests for a fun day full of music, food, and great conversations – making sure we raise awareness and hopefully enough money to drive research and find a cure.

Over the past 7 years, the Tampa Pig Jig has raised over $3,000,000 with all proceeds benefiting NephCure.

 

Back in 2019 to make top 3!

 

And even though it’s secondary, we established how competitive we are. In 2018 our wild card entry made 9th place. And while we ranked much better overall the year before, we’ll be back in 2019 to finally make top 3, at least in one category!

 

Hand squeezing lime juice over arranged food

A drizzle of lime juice on pork belly burnt ends in crispy-fried taco shells. We still can’t believe we only made 9th place…

 

And as with all great things, they take a lot of practice. If you would like to become a guinea pig with early access to amazing food, reviewing and ranking our creations (including our secret wild card for this year), consider joining #teamwondersign. That’s one of the perks that aren’t officially listed…

 

BBQ competition turn-in boxes showcasing ribs and pork belly burnt ends

(Left) Our famous ribs with jalapeno jelly glaze. (Right) Our “wildcard” entry: pork belly burnt ends in shallow-fried taco shells on a cilantro bed

 

Get Cooking!

 

Tampa Pig Jig is organized and executed solely by the help of volunteers. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer please visit https://www.tampapigjig.com/ and consider volunteering or donating. Thank you!

 

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