During his involvement with McLouth's annual barbecue, Cliff Weeks has seen competitors use some pretty unique methods to please the judge's taste buds.
"I saw some guy shooting applesauce in his meat to make it sweeter," said Weeks, chairman of this year's McLouth BBQ Blowout.
Some fairly nontraditional meats have hit the spits at the annual event as well, including alligator, raccoon, rattlesnake and goat.
Whatever the flavor, organizers expect a crowd triple the population of McLouth to break out bibs and wet wipes this Saturday to grub on chicken, ribs, beef brisket and pork prepared by 37 barbecue teams from across northeast Kansas. The event runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Prairie Park.
"It's a big deal," Weeks said. "It's sort of a family event."
The 3,000 to 4,000 people expected to attend Saturday's festivities will be able to sample contestants' grill creations and later vote for their favorite in the People's Choice Award.
In addition to the cook-off, the event will include a petting zoo, carnival games, moon walk, paint ball, remote-control airplane show, motorcycle show and classic car show. Local vendors will sell food and crafts.
But the competing grill masters are the focus of the day's events.
The teams set up on Friday evening, get their smokers going and cook all night to achieve what they hope the 42 judges will deem prize-winning meat.
"The competition is getting very good," said Bill Simons, Eudora, who calls his one-man operation Three Alarm Smokers. "People are there to win. There are some excellent barbecue cooks out there."
Winners will receive cash prizes, and the champion will advance to the American Royal barbecue contest in Kansas City, Mo.
Despite the fierce competition, Simons, who will participate this year for the 11th time, said he always walked away with a new idea and a few new friends.
"The camaraderie of the teams there and the competition is excellent," Simons said.