Bill Simon might know the McLouth Barbecue Blowout better than anyone.
The Eudora man, who has attended every Blowout, won the first competition 15 years ago.
"And I've been working hard ever since," he said.
Today marks the beginning of the 16th Blowout with a carnival of rides and attractions beginning at 7 p.m. at Prairie Park in McLouth.
When Simon was crowned the first barbecue champion, there were about 20 other competitors.
This year the event will have double that.
And it has a new competition: the Backyard Division, which will take place Saturday. Cheryl Wonnell, advertising coordinator for the event, said this division is ideal for folks who love to barbecue but aren't quite hard-core.
"It's if you're a backyard Sunday afternoon barbecue cooker and you don't have a big team, a big entry fee and a big cooker," Wonnell said.
In years past, the McLouth Barbecue Blowout has attracted teams from Oklahoma and Nebraska, but most come from Kansas and Missouri.
"For a small town to have 40 cookers," she said, "that's a good event."
Organizers expect to draw up to 3,000 people.
"If they like barbecue and like barbecue smoke and like to taste different barbecues," Simon said, "that would probably be a good place to go."
Schedule of events
What: 16th Annual McLouth Barbecue BlowoutWhere: Prairie Park in McLouth, on Bulldog Boulevard between Lovers Lane and West Cynthia Street.Directions from Lawrence: Take U.S. Highway 40 East/U.S. Highway 59 North and turn right at East 1400 Road. Continue on Wellman Road for about 10 miles before bearing right on Kansas Highway 16/92. Turn left at South Westview Road and continue on Bulldog Boulevard.TodayCarnival: 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.People can ride all the rides they want for $14.FridayBarbecue concessions: 5 p.m. to closeBackyard Division deadline: 5 p.m.Carnival: 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.SaturdayCountry breakfast served by McLouth 4-H Club: 7 a.m. to 10 a.m.The Great Pit Bake Off: check-in from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.; judging at 10 a.m.Carnival: 9 a.m. to closeMcLouth Barbecue Blowout: judging from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.; awards at 3:30 p.m.LifeStar Helicopter Landing: noonFirefighters and EMT demonstrations: all dayMotorcycle Show: sign-in from 9 a.m. to noon; awards at 2 p.m.Jayhawk Model Masters RC Airplane Club: demonstrations all dayFor more information, go to www.mclouthbbq.com