August 5, 2010
The Krystal 93 BBQ at the Summit will take place today and Saturday in Dillon.
The Rotary Club of Summit County will be hosting its 15th Annual State Championship BBQ contest.
With over 70 championship cooking teams, it will be a bustling competition.
There to entertain people will be a selection of live music. Headlining will be blues talent Smokin’ Joe Kubek and Bnois King. Leon Littlebird will also be playing on the Climax Molybdenum Stage with String Theory.
This event will be the world’s highest Kansas City Barbecue Society (KCBS) BBQ contest. The competition is hugely popular, with teams returning year after year. At least 40 teams coming for the weekend have previously competed in Dillon. The competition includes all ages and all levels, from those just entering for fun to those who cook professionally year-round.
A struggle for first place will occur in the competition for the Rancher’s Reserve Beef Cup. This will run alongside the brisket category and offers $750 extra prize money. Each team participating in this contest will receive 15 pounds of brisket to use during the event. The grand prize also offers a bonus this year: a Traeger Texas Grill, donated by Over the Fence BBQ, whose logo will be featured on the event T-shirts. The championship will have prizes selected by judges and a people’s choice winner, voted for by attendees.
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Spectators who buy $20 in taste tickets, known as BBQ Bucks, will receive a wooden token allowing them to taste as much barbecue as they want. They can then give their token to their favorite team, which will count as a vote.
Over 100 specially qualified judges will decide the category winners of Kids Q, sauce and salsa, meats (including beef brisket, pork shoulder, chicken and ribs) and desserts, according to KCBS judging procedures. Their tasting is blind, with teams unable to differentiate their entries. Each sample will be judged on a scale from one to nine, by six people, for appearance, texture and taste.
4 Legs Up BBQ took both the Dillon and Frisco grand prizes last year and will be back to fight for another victory. They have taken first place 30 times since 2008 and started their own barbecue restaurant in Kansas. However, giving them a run for their money will be 72 teams from Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas, New Mexico, Nebraska and Colorado.
Each of the teams has their own story of how they got into the BBQ scene. But they have one thing in common: Once they tried it, they haven’t stopped.
Doug Pierce of Bonny Q BBQ says he “went to help a friend in Frisco and got hooked.”
Carolyn Patterson of team Rub This explained that for her it all started when her husband and his friends competed in the American Royal BBQ in Kansas City. When they were no longer going to compete, she decided to take up the name, using their merchandise with her sisters. She now leads an all-female team with her sisters, friends, daughter-in-law and sometimes her granddaughter.
The tight, friendly community keeps people coming back. Denny Mildenberger of Over the Fence BBQ explains that his team lost all of their equipment after totaling their truck leaving the Loveland contest and so will not be selling their food at Dillon. He said it was “amazing how the barbecue family called and cared.”
All three teams have received recognition for their entries. Over the Fence BBQ has won two grand prizes. Bonny Q BBQ has won the beef brisket category a couple of times and has had an overall top 10 finish. Rub This has won best side dish twice for a cheesy potato concoction. They also placed fifth in the pork category. Patterson said she “never imagined we would place” for such a tough category. Rub This only competes once a year at Dillon.
“We just do it for fun,” Patterson said.
And they certainly bring a fun attitude to the BBQ.
Every year they dream of taking home a prize for their wacky desserts. They have previously entered a chocolate hamburger, a Krispy Kreme bread pudding and a cornbread cake with sweet corn ice cream.
“Each year we try something different,” she said.
The team also plays upon its name, Rub This, to add inventive entertainment for their customers. The members have previously offered massages, and this year will be providing temporary “rub this” tattoos at their station. Even for people entering just for fun, there is quite a lot involved, and Rub This has to get up to scratch to compete with other teams who BBQ all year round.
Patterson explained that they “practice at altitude because everything cooks differently at 9,000 feet.” But it’s not such a problem for Pierce, who barbecues locally throughout the year at the Arapahoe Cafe in Dillon.
Just the amount of meat needed is shocking. Rub This use about 150 pounds of pork shoulder alone, with total costs coming to roughly $500. And that is just a small team.
Barbecuing also takes up a lot of time. Pierce revealed “the secret to good barbecuing: Start slow and never go faster.” He explained that a lot of people confuse barbecuing with grilling and added that true BBQ is slow cooking, not just throwing some sausages on the grill.
This means, though the contest does not start until the weekend, teams are often cooking from the beginning of the week. Patterson said she usually starts on the pork shoulder for sale on Tuesday and then begins the entries for the competition on Friday.
Despite the efforts and costs involved, some of the most serious teams bringing along big equipment make huge profits. Big Mike’s BBQ is known to have patrons, sometimes queuing an hour or more, lining up to sample his food. And last year the top seller turned in 20,500 tickets.
No one can argue that barbecue isn’t popular here.
“I guess you could say BBQ is a Summit County staple,” said Krystal 93 general manager John O’Connor. The local radio station has been the proud titled sponsor for three years. O’Connor considers this “one of the biggest events in the county.”