They take their barbecue seriously in McLouth.
The 15th annual cooking contest comes with the traditional extra sauce and the name of the McLouth BBQ Blowout.
"The cookers love coming to McLouth," said Cheryl Wonnell, advertising coordinator for today's event. "If they could only do one place, it would be McLouth because the committee takes really good care of them. It's a small community and a good time."
Not only is a spot in the American Royal Invitational Championship on the line today for members of the Kansas City Barbecue Society, but the Blowout also has become a free community event complete with children's games to complement the sweet- and tangy-tasting meats that will emerge from the grills.
The McLouth Recreation Division hosts the event.
Organizers expect at least 36 teams and maybe a few late additions. Cookers will come mostly from Kansas and Missouri, but some have traveled from Oklahoma and Nebraska, organizer Randy Watson said.
The communitywide event begins at 7 a.m. today with a country breakfast by area 4-H Club members. The 4-H'ers also will sell homemade pie and ice cream beginning at 10 a.m.
These activities are planned today at Prairie Park in McLouth:
- Country breakfast, 7 a.m.-10 a.m.
- Children's activities, including water wars, 9 a.m.
- 4-H pie and ice cream sale, 10 a.m.
- Barbecue sauce contest, 11:30 a.m.-noon
- Barbecue judging, noon-3 p.m.
- Awards ceremony, 3 p.m.
Also in the morning, the cookers will fire up their grills and start to crank out servings of beef brisket, pork, ribs, chicken, pork, sausage and anything else that goes with barbecue sauce, Wonnell said.
Before the official judging begins, members of the public can sample the dishes.
The 48 judges will get started at noon. They usually finish with all categories around 3 p.m., when the awards ceremony begins, Wonnell said. The prize presentation will wrap up the day.
Also during the morning and afternoon, the Blowout will feature a petting zoo, motorcycle show, water wars and other activities.
"It's my hometown. We mostly just do it to have something for the community. It's a fun weekend," said Wonnell, who now lives in Lawrence but grew up in McLouth, which is about 15 miles north in Jefferson County.