Pork producers showed how it’s done when it comes to grilling pork at the 2011 Barbecue Battle in the nation’s capitol recently.

“We cooked pork burgers, pork chops and tenderloins on several small Char-Broil grills that anyone can buy at a discount store, and we used meat thermometers so we didn’t overcook anything,” says Leon Sheets, a pork producer from Ionia, IA, who serves as president of the Iowa Pork Producers Association (IPPA). “We showed people that you don’t need a special grill, secret spices or the talent of a professional chef to make pork taste so good.”

Sheets, along with 18 other IPPA producers and representatives, including the Iowa pork queen, traveled to Washington, DC, this summer to showcase pork to the 100,000 people who attended the 19th annual Safeway Barbecue Battle.

The two-day affair was held on Pennsylvania Avenue between the U.S. Capitol and the White House.

“This event made a big impression on consumers, because people could see the producers’ enthusiasm for their product,” says Tyler Bettin, producer education director for the IPPA. He notes the Barbecue Battle provided producers the opportunity to highlight the Pork Checkoff’s new Pork. Be Inspired campaign and promote the new 145-degree temperature recommendation for cooking pork.

Based on the success of this year’s event, the Pork Checkoff has big plans for the Barbecue Battle.

“We’re working with Safeway to make this a national event,” says Patrick Fleming, director of retail marketing for the Pork Checkoff. “It’s a great way to demystify the process of grilling pork and show consumers how to get a delicious dinner on the table in 20 minutes.”