Being a championship BBQ pitmaster, caterer and just all-around barbecue fanatic, it seemed only natural that I would get involved in organizing and putting on a barbecue competition on my home town of Pleasant Hill, Missouri. So when the opportunity arose six years ago, I embarked upon a new adventure, partnered with my then barbecue teammate Stan Hays and created “Smokin’ on Big Creek”. What started as a small event with 48 teams has grown into one of the largest and most popular barbecue competitions in the Kansas City area. The last two years, we have hosted over 70 teams in this professionally sanctioned barbecue competition. Over the years, we have raised money for the Brain Injury Association, March of Dimes, Meals on Wheels and most recently for Operation BBQ Relief. This is a 501c3 not-for-profit disaster relief organization that I co-founded after the deadly and historically destructive Joplin, Missouri tornado in May, 2011.
Many times when the public attends a barbecue competition, they come away disappointed because they could not sample food cooked by the professional competitors. And while health department regulations prohibit our teams from handing out food to the public, there are ways our visitors can enjoy themselves through what’s known as a “people’s choice” competition or simple vending on site. During years past, we have held this people’s Choice competition where teams, while following all food safety requirements as outlined by the health department, turn in their best pork, sausage and chicken wing entries to our volunteers. The public is able to pay an entry to sample these and vote for their favorites. This year, we’re going a slightly different route, vending complete slow-smoked barbecue meals for $5 each! All the money raised from this event goes to help fund disaster relief efforts of Operation BBQ Relief. Additionally, the public can walk around the grounds and visit with the teams and maybe grab a few barbecue pointers. The 2013 edition of “Smokin’ on Big Creek” takes place on Friday/Saturday, April 5-6 at the Cass County Fairgrounds in Pleasant Hill, Missouri. If you’re in the area, come on out, enjoy some tasty food and support a great cause!
If you don’t happen to be in the Kansas City area (and I know most readers probably are not), find out if there’s a barbecue competition in your area and go visit. Some competitions don’t have the sampling we have and there may be a good reason for that. Please understand that not all competitions are able to do this or even have a need to do so. We hear so often of people going out to visit a competition, only to come away disappointed and angry that they couldn’t sample. Please understand that it’s not always within the contest organizer’s control whether it is possible. And the teams are usually instructed not to hand out samples to keep the organizers out of hot water. It avoids some hard feelings if you find out ahead of your visit what the contest offers. But by all means, if you have an interest in barbecue, either from a cooking or eating standpoint, go walk around, talk to the professionals and get some useful tips and hear some great stories! We barbecue pitmasters love to tell a good story! Whether they’re true or not, well, that depends on who you talk to!