Forty-eight local and national barbecue connoisseurs are preparing to fill Broken Arrow Park with an aroma of sweet, spicy sauces and meats this week.
If your mouth is watering, then Saturday's 10th annual Lawrence Sertoma Cookoff is the place to be. The event is one of the Kansas state championship contests sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbecue Society.
Cooks will wheel in and set up their grills Friday at the park, near 31st and Louisiana streets, where the event will be held Saturday.
"The most fun part is seeing the grills," said Dee Bisel, event chairwoman. "Some of the grills are the size of my car. They pull them on trailers and motor homes. It's something to see."
One grill sticks out in her mind from previous years.
"It's so big he can go inside of it," she said of the cook. "The back side is a painted picture of a pig and as the rotisserie spins," so does the pig's tail.
From 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. Saturday, a public breakfast will be served by volunteer firefighters. From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., attendees can satisfy their barbecue cravings with samples from the competitors and, in the process, pick the People's Choice winner. Tickets to eat barbecue cost $5.
"I like the event, because everyone is having such a good time," Bisel said.
But from noon to 2 p.m., ignore the cooks, Bisel said. That's when the competition heats up and gets intense.
"The reason they come out there is to win," Bisel said.
The 48 teams will compete to win prize money of $4,800. The grand champion will compete in the American Royal Cook-Off.
People will also have the opportunity to win a 2008 Silver Dodge Charger for a $5 contribution.
A majority of the funds raised from the event will help support the Sertoma-Schiefelbusch Communications Camp for children. Sertoma is an international service organization focused on communicative disorders. The Kansas University Schiefelbusch Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic and Sertoma bring together children with and without communication challenges to help them improve communication skills.
Jane Wegner, clinic director, said this year's camp theme is "Explore Life" through the senses.
"It's great fun," she said. "The kids are focusing on their activities, but we design activities, so there's a good deal of interaction needed to complete them."