Frisco merchants, Rotarians debate Barbecue Challenge |

Frisco merchants, Rotarians debate Barbecue Challenge

FRISCO – Frisco’s annual Barbecue Challenge is the local Rotary Club’s biggest fundraiser. But as the Rotary’s coffers and barbecue vendors’ pockets fill, local restaurateurs and merchants are losing.

“I think the biggest problem, right now, is the size of the event,” said Bobby Kato, owner of Tuscato. “It has outgrown its venue.”

The Barbecue Challenge always has affected local business profits, but its impact has increased with its success, restaurateurs said. Where once Main Street restaurants each recorded a loss of about $1,000 during the two-day event, now several are looking at losses of $5,000 or more – not including the money servers lose in tips during that time.

“It’s only been the past (two to three) years where it’s been a real significant hit to the pocketbook to us,” said Cindy Spaulding, owner of the Boatyard. “It’s a huge burden to ask for a few people to bear.”

“We’re trying to invigorate the town, but instead we’re hurting,” said Larry Smithwick, owner of Smithwick Smoker on Summit Boulevard.

Frisco officials and merchants and Rotary members debated the options for the Barbecue Challenge – whether it should stay on Main Street but decrease in size, or change its venue or its date.

Most merchants agreed they would be happiest if the event changed its date.

If the Barbecue Challenge is held in June or September, typically slow months for local businesses, it would bring more business to local lodging facilities while lessening the impact on restaurants and retail, they said.

“We only have a six-week summer,” said Bobby Starekow, owner of Silverheels at the Ore House. “We’re trying not to lose one more.”

But the Barbecue Challenge must be sanctioned to be successful, Cameron said, and that might not be possible during June, when other cities across the nation already have their sanctioned barbecue competitions scheduled.

Additionally, the town would lose many of its family guests if the event is moved to a date when school is in session. she said.

“I firmly believe that we would not recuperate from changing the date to June.”

Moving the venue poses as many problems as it might solve, officials said, as other locations in town lack the infrastructure necessary to support such a big event.

And moving it from Main Street might also cause the Barbecue Challenge to lose much of its charm, some said.

It was a sometimes heated debate with no immediate resolutions.

Instead of making decisions based on emotions, officials and merchants agreed to meet again Sept. 18 – after Rotary officials have time to investigate the impacts of moving the event to June – to make a more informed decision.

Lu Snyder can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 203, or

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