25th Annual Colorado BBQ Challenge kicks off | SummitDaily.com

25th Annual Colorado BBQ Challenge kicks off

The smell of freshly smoked pork and the sizzling kabobs hitting the grill filled the air around Frisco on Friday afternoon as the 25th Annual Colorado BBQ Challenge officially kicked off.

Thousands of visitors from around the state gathered to chow down on some of the best BBQ the country has to offer while taking in live music, pig races and more. "The food is incredible and it's just great to get out into the mountains and walk around," said Gene Chung of Highlands Ranch. "It's a really good reason to get out here. Frisco is just a really nice town."

Patrons took full advantage of a seemingly endless chain of more than 70 BBQ vendors stretching from Madison to 6th Avenue along Main Street. Along with chicken, brisket, pork and any other type of BBQ imaginable, visitors could also indulged in ice-cream Sundays and craft lemonade.

For visitors, it's the festival's size and diversity that makes it a hit.

"The number of different BBQ vendors is amazing," said Blake Huggins of Lafayette. "There's almost too much to choose from, and there's just a really great variety."

At its core, the event is a competition with vendors battling for the title of best in show. Each year a panel of judges selects winners amongst competitors for best overall, best dessert, best brisket, best pork and so on. There is also a coveted people's choice award.

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"Normally you've got the top 15-to-20 teams from around the nation, so you've got some real competitors around here," said Megill Stewart, owner of Big Daddy's Texas BBQ which came in second in the people's choice last year. "Its really nice to be able to compete against people who love the craft the way you love the craft. It's also nice to hear your name called, and we're working hard to make that happen again this year."

Green Flame Award

But another competition is also picking up steam at the event this year, the High Country Conservation Center's Green Flame Awards, given each year to three vendors who exemplify a dedication to sustainability in their craft.

"The award honors the vendors at the Frisco BBQ Challenge who are doing an excellent job at trying to divert their waste," said Jessica Burley, community programs director for HC3. "The town of Frisco values the opportunity to have as little impact as possible during their events, so they've encouraged the vendors to set the tone for the attendees."

Three vendors receive the award—a selling competitor, a non-selling competitor and a non-competing vendor—based around their material use, recycling, composting and their willingness to share information on the topic with customers who come by their booth.

To date the program has been a success. Each year the BBQ Challenge generates about 15 tons of waste, but the conservation center is able to divert 30-to-50 percent of that waste away from landfills, according to Burley.

The winners of the Green Flame Awards will be announced alongside the BBQ Competition winners at 4 p.m. on Saturday.

Burley is hoping that the initiative rubs off on the thousands of visitors enjoying the festival this weekend.

"With over 30,000 event attendees from all over the country it's a great opportunity not only to showcase what our values are here as a community, but also to show people that when they go home or attend other events there's opportunities to divert waste there as well.

"The BBQ is a great opportunity to take a bite out of our own impact, but also hopefully spread that education."