With only one day remaining until the 2013 Barbeque Blaze-off kicks off in Blue Springs, the smell of sauce and meat smoking is already hanging in the air.
This is the 30th year for the Blaze-Off, which is from 6 to 11 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Hidden Valley Sports Complex, 6500 N.W. Valley View Road. The competition, sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbeque Society, is one of the oldest in the four-state region, behind only the American Royal and the Great Lenexa BBQ contests. The last 14 contests have been large enough to qualify the grand champion for the International Invitational Contest.
The competition has six categories. However, only brisket, pork, chicken and pork ribs count toward the overall grand champion. There is also Kid-Q, which has two divisions - 5- to 10-year-olds and 11- to 15-year-olds. There is a $10 registration fee for the event, and contestants must provide their own contest meat.
The focus on this year’s competition has been finding ways to make it more convenient and welcoming for community members. Instead of “Buck-A-Bone, which involved selling individual tickets to try some samples, Uptegrove said any barbecue contestant can choose to sell food to the public for a $250 vendor fee. The fee also includes the health license that is required. This will allow contestants to sell their food in any way they wish – samples, full plates, sides or dessert. They can also set the price for each item.
Another new event is the People’s Choice category, sponsored by Hy-Vee. The store will give each team two whole chickens. After each team prepares the chicken, the public will have the opportunity to try a sample and vote for their favorite. The winning team will receive the People’s Choice Award.
In addition, there will be a mini carnival as well as entertainment from local dance and karate teams throughout the day Saturday. The carnival will include a mechanical bull, rock climbing wall and a children’s play area, among other things. Parks and Recreation supervisor Rachel Uptegrove said she hopes this will encourage more families to come and enjoy the competition.
“We want to make it more family friendly,” she said. “A lot of people come in to walk through the teams and taste the barbecue. We want more families to come and stay a while.”
Volunteers are still needed for the blaze-off in areas such as the beer garden, selling event merchandise, information booth assistance, ice delivery, golf cart shuttle, parking lot assistance, electricity and event stage set-up, trash pick-up, team check-in and selling raffle tickets.
For more information on how to volunteer, call the Blue Springs Parks and Recreation office at 816-228-0270.