There's not really a secret to making succulent pork ribs or tender beef brisket.
All you need is an attention to detail, said Tom Roberts, Leawood.
"It's not one secret," he said. "It's just doing a lot of things well."
Those things include using low heat to slowly tenderize the meat, keeping the meat moist and allowing 10 to 14 hours of cooking time.
Roberts and his friend Marty Wilson, Prairie Village, set up their cooker Friday evening to slow roast pork ribs, beef brisket and chicken. By Saturday at lunch time, they were ready for the fourth annual Sertoma Club Barbecue Cook-Off at Broken Arrow Park.
About 30 teams competed in the event and hundreds came by to sample each cook's best efforts.
Roberts began barbecuing about nine years ago, and now enters three or four contests a year. Though some people use regular back-yard grills, a specialty smoker helps, he said.
Though Roberts can fit about 300 pounds of meat in his smoker, on Saturday he prepared about 35 pounds of ribs, pork butt, beef brisket and chicken. Throughout the night and morning, he tended the meat with sauce, spices and a misting of apple juice.
"I think the quality of barbecue that you get here is significantly better than Arthur Bryant's or Gate's," he said. "The guys that cook out here aren't worried about pinching pennies."
Bill Heard, Oskaloosa, and his Haz-Mat BBQ team go to about six cook-offs a year, where they've received awards for everything from their homemade sauce to "atomic buffalo turds," jalapeno peppers filled with cream cheese, pork butt and wrapped in bacon.
He said the team had started with the idea of competing for awards, but now came for the people.
"We never cooked once where we didn't go home with another good friend," he said.
Mark and Lee Henry, Olathe, barbecue at the cook-offs and serve as judges through the Kansas City Barbecue Society. They've also traveled to competitions from North Carolina to Minnesota.
Lee Henry said they enjoyed meeting people, being outdoors and trying to do a little better each time.
Nadia Zhiri, fund-raising chairwoman for the Lawrence Sertoma Club, said the event proceeds benefit speech and hearing programs and community projects.
"We wanted something that can be fun and raise money at the same time," she said.