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Annual barbecue contest promises fun for families

August 10, 2018 – On August 17, the air surrounding downtown Excelsior will grow thick with the sweet, smoky smell of barbecue, as barbecue enthusiasts and talented smokers gather to strut their stuff in the annual BBQ & Fly-In on the River.

Jim McCullough, owner of Wabash BBQ, came up with the idea and started the competition 18 years ago. A few years later, his wife Cheri came on board, and now serves as a committee member. She said attendees have a lot to look forward to this year. The band Pompous Jack will perform on the main stage in front of the Hall of Waters at 7 p.m. on Aug. 17th, followed by what Cheri described as “the biggest fireworks display we’ve ever had.” The contest continues through Aug. 18th.

In addition, over 60 teams signed up to compete. The top twenty barbecue teams in America are among those 60, and within that elite group, the number one team in America, Boomerang BBQ, from Texas, will compete.

KCBS sanctioned event

The Kansas City Barbecue Society judges the entrants, using a blind judging method. Cheri said watching the judging can be fascinating, and a lot goes into it. The judging will take place at the Hall of Waters and starts at 11 a.m. on Aug. 17th.

Proceeds from the event fund several causes, all within Excelsior Springs. The event creates a $2,500 scholarship for a local high school student. Other donations go to the Masonic Lodge, the Excelsior Springs Museum & Archives, and the Quarterback Club, said Cheri.

The event charges $5 at the gate, but the cost includes access to the concert, and the fireworks. Several vendors rented space. Cheri encouraged families to come down, enjoy the music, and take the chance to chat with award-winning barbecue teams.

“Ask questions, see how they do things,” Cheri said. “I’m excited to have some of the top teams come to our town. That’s pretty impressive.”

Last year, the BBQ & Fly-In on the River gave away $10,000 in prize money and gave $13,000 back to the community in donations. Previous projects funded through the event include helping with the purchase of a skate park, a community park, expansion of the museum, funds for the Athletic Department, and two emergency vehicles for the local fire and police departments.


Editor’s note: This story was updated to include the band Pompous Jack after organizers announced their performance.


By Samantha Kilgore •

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