Barbeque specialists from around the country will converge on Mt. Vernon this June to compete for their share of $7,500 in winnings at the second annual King City Barbeque Showdown at the Rend Lake College MarketPlace.
But there’s more to this festival than just great-tasting barbeque, and everyone is sure to find some excitement. Spectators can enjoy a variety of food and music or feast their eyes on a Harley-Davidson Bike Show. Fun awaits the youngsters with a carnival and with their own version of a BBQ Showdown, the "Kids-Q." Organizers also are working to bring a Budweiser Clydesdales team to kick off the event, as they did last year.
The event is sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbeque Society, the world’s largest international organization of barbeque enthusiasts. At last year’s inaugural event, teams from Tennessee, Alabama, Florida, Indiana and much of the Midwest competed.
Let none say these contestants aren’t dedicated to their craft. Many will be up in the wee hours of the morning during the contest to begin cooking. Several of the barbeque teams sport creative names as well. A sampling of last year’s teams includes 2 Fat Larrys, Piggin’n’Grinnin’, Ribs’n’Bibs and the BBQ’N Parrot Heads.
Rend Lake College and the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce have partnered to organize this year’s BBQ Showdown.
"We all feel great about the coming event and prospects for future events," said Brenda Malone, Executive Director of the Jefferson County Chamber. "We believe that the barbeque has massive potential to bring tourism to our community, build our community image and give our members a chance to advertise their businesses and serve. Most importantly, it will be fun."
Malone said the pooling of the resources of the two entities will cause a tremendous improvement to the BBQ Showdown. "Great things are happening," she said.
"I feel very strongly that the cooperation between RLC and the Chamber will make this a really outstanding event," said event Coordinator Cindy Hoard.
The event has been moved to the Rend Lake College MarketPlace this year, with Holiday Inn and Integra Bank also donating use of portions of their nearby properties during the festivities. Malone said hosting the event near Interstate 57/64 will make more people aware of it.
The barbequers can prepare up to four types of meat: chicken, pork ribs, pork and brisket. Later, in a room in which only KCBS representatives and media are allowed, several teams of judges will rate the barbecuing efforts of the competitors in the categories of appearance, taste and tenderness/texture.
KCBS’s judges have honed barbeque judging to a science. For instance, many people believe that "meat falling off the bone" makes for great barbeque, but to a KCBS judge, it just means the meat is overcooked. Judges trained by KCBS are qualified to judge any Kansas City Barbeque Society event in the country. Judges for the June event will be pooled from those who attended last year’s judging school and from other current KCBS judges.
According to the organization’s Web site, the mission of the Kansas City Barbeque Society is to celebrate, teach, preserve, and promote barbeque as a culinary technique, sport and art form. "Our goal is to have barbeque recognized as ‘America’s Cuisine,’" the site states. In addition to its judging classes, KCBS also teaches barbeque cooking classes around the country.
The second annual King City Barbeque Showdown gets underway at 4 p.m. Friday, June 11, at the Rend Lake College MarketPlace on Potomac Boulevard in Mt. Vernon. The Budweiser Clydesdales are tentatively scheduled to kick off the event and will arrive in the south parking lot. A Harley-Davidson Bike Show, sponsored by Dale’s Harley-Davidson of Mt. Vernon, also is set for Friday near the food, music and beer garden area behind Holiday Inn. The barbeque contestants will be set up on the north side of the Washington Monument across the street from Lone Star Steakhouse and Saloon.
Friday’s activities will include a children’s competitive barbeque with categories for ages 7 to 11 and 11 to 16. The youngsters will compete in the categories of chicken and hot dogs. Judging will take place at 7 p.m. The "Kids-Q" is being organized with help from Project Child and will be set up on the sidewalk near the Washington Monument.
Musical entertainment for the evening will include Crave (rock, 5-7 p.m.), Rip Lee Pryor Blues Band (7-9 p.m.) and Wild Horses (country, 9 p.m.-midnight).
On Saturday, June 12, the action gets underway again at noon. The winners of the King City Barbeque Showdown will be announced from 3-4 p.m. on the stage in the music area. In addition to a variety of food vendors, some of the Showdown contestants will sell their barbeque.
Music for the day will be provided by Deep Cuts (blues, noon-3 p.m.), Pennsylvania Slim Blues Band (4:30-6:30 p.m.), Big Al and the Heavyweights (blues, 7:15-9:15 p.m.) and Soulard Blues Band (10 p.m.-midnight).
Beginning Wednesday and continuing throughout the entire event, the Magic Midway Carnival will be set up on the south parking lot. A family area also will be available.
The KCBS membership currently numbers more than 4,000 and keeps growing each year. KCBS members can be found in all 50 states, most Canadian Provinces and internationally in eight countries. Some members are backyard grillers, while others are National Barbeque Champions. Some members operate restaurants, while others are regular barbeque customers.
Rend Lake College and the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce extend an open invitation to the public to come listen to great music, have a great time, and of course, sample some of the best barbeque around.
No admission will be charged at the MarketPlace. Admission for the music area will be $5 per person with children under 12 admitted free. Parking for the event will be $1 per vehicle and is available south of the paved south parking lot at the MarketPlace.
For more information, contact Hoard at (618) 242-4338, or Malone at (618) 242-5725.