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BBQ contest fills streets with fun, fire, fly-in

Another year and another great success, the 13th Annual BBQ and Fly-In on the River entertained thousands of guests over the weekend in downtown Excelsior Springs.  By mid-afternoon Friday the smell of smoked meat wafted through the historic district while close to 70 barbecue teams prepared ribs, chicken, pork butt and brisket for their smokers, which came in every style imaginable.

The mood was jovial as guests of the festival walked up and down the streets getting to know the competitors and learning their recipes.  Jim McCullough, event coordinator, said that this year’s great weather brought out great teams, great entertainment and amazing fireworks.

The teams and entertainment were just a small part of this year’s barbecue festival.  Local bands JD and the Chasers and Salem Road provided live music and got people out on the dance floor in front of the Hall of Waters while children were entertained with a giant bounce house located in the courtyard in front of the hall.  Vendors provided snacks, beverages and glow in the dark accessories, which were a huge hit among both children and grown ups.

McCullough and the barbecue committee were seen in their red shirts everywhere in the downtown area helping keep teams happy, whether it was emptying everyone’s trash receptacles or making sure ice and water was readily available.

“We have a fantastic group of committee members and volunteers that made everything go smoother than ever before,” said McCullough.  “We would also like to thank all of the people who attended and donated money at the gates.  Your money goes to help our local causes that hopefully will make this town a better place to live.”

The barbecue committee held a raffle this year to help raise money for local Masonic Clay Lodge 207.  Tickets were sold weeks before the festival took place but the winner wasn’t announced until the barbecue awards ceremony, which was held Saturday afternoon.  Two winners were chosen; Kevin Cline’s name was drawn first and he opted for the Charbroil combo gas/charcoal grill.  The second winner was Steve Smith, who won a Winchester 30-30/1867-1967 lever action commemorative rifle, which had never been shot before.

After the raffle winners were announced McCullough took a moment to thank the many barbecue committee members and the event sponsors who help make the BBQ and Fly-In a success every year.

“We would really like to thank our many sponsors, from the major sponsors and all the way down to everyone who gave $5 at the gate.  It is through these donations that we keep this festival running every year,” said McCullough.  “It is also through these donations that we are able to give back to the community every single year.”

McCullough began the awards ceremony by announcing the barbecue team who had their barbecue space decked out with the most red, white and blue.  This year the committee asked for teams to pull out all of the stops and gave an award to the most patriotic team.  Winning the award for the best-decorated, most patriotic area was Priceless BBQ.

The BBQ and Fly-In has six categories for teams to compete in: pasta, dessert, chicken, ribs, pork butt and brisket.  McCullough began with the pasta category—third place went to Pig Newton; second place to Midwest Scuba Que and in first place was Bare Bones BBQ Team.  Local contestants Team Price Chopper took fifth place in the pasta category.

In the dessert category third place went to Rum, Chum and BBQ, second place to Wildcatters Q Crew and first place was awarded to Smoke This BBQ-MO.

Winning third place in the chicken category was Gremlin Grill, followed by second place team Whiskey, Women and Wibs.  First place in chicken was given to Nickle Boys BBQ.  Again, local competitors Team Price Chopper placed in the top 10, earning ninth in chicken.

In the ribs category, third place was awarded to R Butts R Smoking, second place winners were Boss Hogg’s BBQ and first place was given to Gonna Get Messy.  Team Price Chopper earned sixth in ribs.

Pork butt winners were
announced next with Team Price Chopper earning third place, TRUEBUD BBQ won second place and in first place was Burnt Finger BBQ.  The Excelsior Springs Police Department’s team, Pork Patrol, found themselves on the top 10 list with their pork butt, earning sixth place.

McCullough then announced the winners of the brisket category. Third place was given to Wildcatters Q Crew, second place went to Smokin Guns and an amazing first place with a perfect score was awarded to Big T’s Q Cru.

Saving the best for last, the crowd was on the edge of their seats as McCullough announced the overall rankings from the 13th Annual BBQ and Fly-In competition.  Fifth place overall went to Team Price Chopper, fourth place to Hog Tide Bar-B-Que, third place was awarded to Burnt Finger BBQ; second place and reserve champion was Whiskey Pit BBQ Co., and this year’s grand champion was R Butts R Smokin.

While the barbecue festival was turning in their meat and competing for trophies, ribbons and prize money, the Excelsior Springs Memorial Airport was alive with airplane enthusiasts, many of whom were hungry for one—or both—of the meals served there.  Jim and Sarah Dickerson, organizers of the fly-in, said they served approximately 350 people at a pancake breakfast with the works, and nearly 200 people ate a barbecue lunch provided by Wabash BBQ.

“The Young Eagles rides continue to soar in popularity and we simply did not have enough pilots to handle the increasing number of kids,” said Dickerson.  The Young Eagles rides were given free of charge to children ages 8 to 18.  “We even had a Young Eagles pilot who flew in from Minnesota to help with the Youth Eagles Flights.”

Airplane rides and great food were accompanied by a bounce house provided by the Excelsior Springs Parks and Recreation Foundation, and all money raised by the bounce house helped to support the foundation’s cause.

The Dickersons said that at last count there were just a little more than 70 fly-in planes.

“To put that into perspective, Applegate, which is a large popular annual grassroots fly-in, had just over 50 planes fly in this year, and that is a well known annual event,” Jim Dickerson explained on Monday.

“Thank you to all that made this come together,” Dickerson added.  “Thank you to all of the board members for their contributions and the clean-up and set-up on Friday, which helped bring the airport back to life.”

The airport will continue to have updates from the fly-in on their Web page, www.thenew3ex.com.

Kevin Cline was pickin’ and the BBQ and Fly-in On the River Committee was grinnin’ on Saturday, after the 66 competitive barbecue teams turned in their best ribs, pork butt, brisket, chicken and, if they liked, dessert and pasta dishes. After Cline’s performance, the committee handed out trophies and ribbons to the top finishers in each category. (Photo by Jae Juarez)

Kevin Cline was pickin’ and the BBQ and Fly-in On the River Committee was grinnin’ on Saturday, after the 66 competitive barbecue teams turned in their best ribs, pork butt, brisket, chicken and, if they liked, dessert and pasta dishes. After Cline’s performance, the committee handed out trophies and ribbons to the top finishers in each category. (Photo by Jae Juarez)

By Jae Juarez • jae@leaderpress.com

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