By LARRY PHILLIPS
• Leader & Times
The United Wireless Five State Fair BBQ is this weekend. Jim Rice, organizer for the event, has been busy tracking and contacting teams and judges.
“First it was getting enough teams that we were worried about,” Rice said. “A couple of weeks ago, we had about seven teams signed up for the contest and 25 judges or CBJ’s. Now we have 20 teams and 18 judges.”
He has never experienced such indecision on the part of teams and judges in the three years he has been organizing this event.
“We may have a cancelation or two, but nothing like this year. I never know who is coming and who is going,” Rice said.
This year, the event will feature several changes and improvements. A dessert class has been added and there is a lot of interest from teams in this new category. Ten teams have signed up that have not been here before, including three new teams from Liberal.
Rice added there will be at least four teams from Liberal. Jerry Odle’s BB-N-BBQ competed in the contest a couple years ago. This year, Odle will be trying out his new smoker in the contest.
Friday evening, several vendors serving a variety of barbecue selections will be available for the public to come out and try some great Kansas City BBQ style cooking.
Rice said that has been the main request from the public since the contest started. This year, they have an opportunity to try it. Those same vendors will be required to participate in the contest Saturday. That is a requirement to become a vendor.
“We did not want them to just come in to serve the public Friday evening and go home, they have to compete in the contest Saturday,” Rice said.
Several new smoker machines will be here for everyone to check out as well. These guys are just as proud of their equipment as they are of their smoking abilities and, they take extreme pride in doing everything just right.
Doug Champlin and his family from Albuquerque, N.M., is bringing their Car-B-Que. Doug has competed in all the contests and has requested his special No. 1 spot again this year. Randy Malin and crew will be responsible for contestant check-in and seeing that everyone is placed in the proper spot according to their needs.
Setup of the grounds for the competition is a huge effort. Delbert Stebens, Linda Johnson, Tony Herrman and their county maintenance crews are always on hand to help. Setup usually starts on Monday or Tuesday in preparing the parking lot for the contest.
A water line which Malin designed and built is the hit of the show and often the talk of other contests.
“If you ask any cook team what they like best about the contest, usually it is the convenience of the water line” Malin said.
The water line is constructed so it runs by each team and only a short hose is required to hook up.
“We actually have solar heated water system as a result of the sun shining on that white PVC pipe, just another added benefit for our contest,” Malin added with a smile.
Malin said he has seen other contests in which team members carried water a block or two back to their location. “Ours is hot and convenient.”
“Come out look around, talk with the teams and have a little barbeque,” Rice said. “You may find yourself wanting to join in the competition next year?”