The 26th annual Colorado BBQ Challenge in Frisco kicks off summer in Summit County
The sun was out on Saturday, showering thousands of barbecue lovers as they shuffled up and down Frisco Main Street on the final day of 2019’s Colorado BBQ Challenge. The festival, the town’s largest organized event of the year, kicked off summer in Summit County with a family-friendly cornucopia of sights, smells and sounds.
Saturday’s weather cooperated amid concerns of thunderstorms. Friday, the first day of the event, was dampened by clouds and an afternoon thunderstorm.
Six blocks of Frisco’s Main Street transformed into a long, bustling promenade, with trucks, tents and booths on the sides hawking their wares — pork shoulder, ribs, brisket, turkey legs, lemonade, ice cream, local honey, artwork, taxidermied wildlife and everything in between — while music pumped from speakers and off the main concert stage at Main and Madison.
Playing the main stage were local favorites Beau Thomas, Satellite 13 and Hobo Village, along with outside acts including the Flobots and Bruno Mars tribute band Uptown Funk.
This year’s BBQ Challenge is the 26th to take place in Frisco since the first cookoff took place in 1993 with a dozen local competitors. Now, the two-day event sees upwards of 30,000 visitors flock to Frisco, bringing in people and cuisine from all over the state and country. That includes Summit expatriates making their summer pilgrimage home.
“The BBQ Challenge helps celebrate the start of summer here in Summit County,” said Frisco Mayor Gary Wilkinson. “It brings a lot of people in to Frisco to see our beautiful Main Street. We had some people who moved to Tennessee and they (are) coming back this year, because it’s a tradition.”
Wilkinson made special mention of the more than 400 volunteers who made the event go off without a hitch, working the booths as well as manning zero waste disposal tents, where visitors were guided on how to properly compost and recycle their garbage while discarding anything else to the landfill.
The High Country Conservation Center has been partnering with the town for over a decade to provide “Zero Waste Warriors” to man the tents, sending over 120 volunteers to help divert as much waste as possible away from the landfill.
“We’re usually at about 40% total waste being recyclables and compost,” said Jennifer Schenk, director of HC3. “It’s keeping thousands of pounds of usable waste out of landfill.”
Amid the pigging out, there were racing pigs. The famous All-Alaskan Racing Pigs were back in town to entertain kids and adults alike, as the eight professional porkers hailing from Fairbanks, Alaska, with names like Sourdough Jack and Strawberry raced several times throughout the day as the racemaster rattled off pig puns at a frenetic pace.
And, of course there was the main event — the grub. The Colorado BBQ Challenge is sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbecue society, making it a serious event for barbecue enthusiasts. Judges score vendors on a 180 point scale, with several vendors receiving the prized 180 point ribbon for perfect judging scores. Heroic efforts from barbecue masters yielded many awards, with Porky’s Pit Crew as this year’s overall grand champion, buoyed by its No. 1 finish for chicken. Rounding out the top three were Lucky’s Q in second place and Shake N’ Bake BBQ in third.
Best Overall: Porky’s Pit Crew (1st), Lucky’s Q (2nd), Shake N’ Bake BBQ (3rd)
Best Pork: Proud Souls BBQ (1st), Honeyman BBQ (2nd), Shake N’ Bake BBQ (3rd)
Best Ribs: Celtic Pig (1st), Shake N’ Bake BBQ (2nd), Backdraft BBQ (3rd)
Best Brisket: Lucky’s Q (1st), Celtic Pig (2nd), American Dream BBQ (3rd)
Best Salsa: Midnight Smokers (1st), Blake Bostic (2nd), Q Live Crew BBQ (3rd)
Best Chicken: Porky’s Pit Crew (1st), 913 BBQ (2nd), Lucky’s Q (3rd)
Best Side Dish: Smokin’ Elvises (1st), Billy Gomer’s BBQ (2nd), Pure Kitchen II (3rd)
Best Sauce: Mountain Lyon Extreme BBQ (1st), ResQ Joe’s (2nd), Brick Street Tavern (3rd)
Best Dessert: Clarence (1st), Smoke Jumper BBQ (2nd), 1-2 BBQ (3rd)
Anything Goes: Midnight Smokers (1st), Q Tang Clan (2nd), Proud Souls BBQ (3rd)
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