Barbecue competition braces for thunderstorms - KCTV5 News

Barbecue competition braces for thunderstorms

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A stormy forecast is causing concern for a number of outdoor events going Friday night. One of the biggest is the American Royal World Series of Barbecue contest.

Early in the day Friday, those in pit masters' row said they've grilled through all kinds of conditions, and they're not expecting a few raindrops to disrupt anything.

If you can dream it, you can find it at the American Royals, as long as you're dreaming of meat. They come from all over the country, checking out the 20-acre site.

"Just let the meat, the smoke and time do its thing," said Heath Hall with Pork Barrel BBQ.

Last year's winners are back from Minnesota to defend their title as they bring the big knives to the smoke fights.

"It's the biggest competition in the land, and right now we can say we're kings for the entire year, but we have two days left so it's either repeat, or you're out," said Jeff Vanderlinde with Shiggin' and Grinnin' BBQ.

But they'll have to stand up to the local guys who are taking extra pride in the competition.

"It's my 28th year down here. It's awesome. I love representing Kansas City," said Mike Hoag with Wubba's BBQ.

"There's three or four regions that vie for BBQ capital of America: Memphis, Texas, the Carolinas, Kansas City, but I think having this major contest here certainly gives Kansas City a leg up in that battle," Hall said.

The real question is whether Mother Nature will be as welcoming as the Kansas City crowd.

"There's a communication plan and process, and everybody knows exactly what to do so we make sure everybody's safe and having a good time while they're enjoying the BBQ," said Jennifer Brand, who does public relations for American Royal.

There is plenty of space to move the whole operation inside if things get bad, but a little rain won't stop the competitors.

"We've cooked in everything from sleet and snow, rain, 100 degrees to 20 degrees," Hall said.

Nor will it put a halt to the hungry crowds.

"If you see two people out on the side of the road, full, that's us," said Tony Booe of Jefferson City.

It costs $15 at the door to get into the American Royal and parking is difficult in the West Bottoms, so there are free shuttles from Union Station.

Potential visitors should be aware that they can't just walk up and buy food from the pit masters because their food is for the judges. There are plenty of vendors selling food, though.

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