BBQ competition lures 40,000 to Sandstone
The Bacon Explosion – a carnivorous medley of bacon, sausage and barbecue – has inspired nationwide media coverage and a future recipe book, “BBQ Makes Everything Better,” to be released next year by Aaron Chronister and Jason Day.
The Kansas City, Mo., natives were two members of a three-member team, going by the name of Burnt Finger BBQ, which competed in last weekend’s Great American Barbecue Festival at the Capitol Federal Park at Sandstone. The festival, which started Friday, May 22, and ended Sunday, May 24, brought in competitors and visitors from across the country.
Paul Satterfield, a spokesperson for the festival, said the turnout was exceptional.
“We had a phenomenal year,” Satterfield said. “I’d say it’s one of our top years.”
The Bacon Explosion had its product launch during the festival, where free samples were offered throughout the weekend. Day and Chronister also gave a demonstration Saturday evening on how to prepare the Bacon Explosion.
“It is a perfect blend of sausage, bacon and barbecue,” Day said of the bacon-wrapped, bacon-stuffed sausage fatty he and Chronister invented last year. The two have since built a small but now nationally-renowned business out of their creation called BBQ Addicts. “It’s a lot of all of (those ingredients), but it’s not as scary and overwhelming as it looks.”
Other features of the Great American Barbecue festival included country, blues and tribute bands and a carnival. The main focus, however, was barbecue, and to that end the weekend featured a panoply of contests representing a full barbecue dinner, including those in the appetizer, sauce, baste, rub, dessert and side dish categories. The main dish contests were the Kansas City Barbecue Society open, the Royal Oak Invitational and the Oklahoma Joe’s Word Brisket open, where competitive teams were judged on their skill of cooking and presenting barbecue chicken, brisket, pork and ribs. Cash prizes up to $7,500, trophies, ribbons and even a Good-One smoker valued at $3,000 were awarded to the top contestants.
Tracy Satterfield, executive director of the Great American Barbecue Festival, said she was impressed with some of the out-of-state teams that came to the festival to compete.
“It’s really wonderful that a team that doesn’t get to compete in the Midwest very often, comes and does so well at a large competition (event),” she said of Slap Yo’ Daddy BBQ, a team from California that placed second overall in the KCBS open contest. “Somebody coming from California to compete is pretty fantastic.”
Another featured contest was the Kidz Que, where children ages 5 to 15 had the chance to compete in a barbecue contest of their own. The contest was divided into two groups: Children ages five to 10 were provided a pork chop to cook, and those ages 11 to 15 were provided a steak. Seven-year-old Andrew Flory, who placed 34th out of 39 contestants in the pork chop category said he enjoyed how independent the contest always made him feel.
“This is my third year doing it,” Flory, who is from Piper, Kan., said of the contest. “It really is fun because I can cook by myself … I kind of feel like I’m an adult entering a contest.”
The Great American Barbecue was at the Woodlands Racetrack in Kansas City, Kan., the last four years, and this was the first time Sandstone was the chosen location.
Tracy Satterfield, who said the event brought in about 40,000 people this year, saw the weekend as a huge success.
“For having a new venue, our first time at Sandstone and working with a new city, we were thrilled with the operational aspects of (the venue), the aesthetic aspects and the public aspects of the event,” she said.
And though Burnt Finger BBQ didn’t place in any of the top categories of the KCBS and Oklahoma Joe’s Brisket open contests, the Bacon Explosion was a hit.
“This is unbelievable,” Brad VanEss, of Las Vegas, said after taking a bite. “Can I buy one right now?”