20th annual BBQ Fest brings food, music and competition together

Monday, August 6, 2012
The Penny Street Porkers of Cape Girardeau, from left, Jim Ham, Reeder Withers, Kenny Bramlett and Mike Klipfel, work on their pulled pork entry during the 19th annual Cape Girardeau Jaycees BBQ Fest at Arena Park. (Southeast Missourian file photo)

Good food, good music and good fun. That's what's on the menu for the Cape Girardeau Jaycees 20th annual Cape BBQ Fest on Aug. 24 and Aug. 25 at Arena Park.

"The most popular part is on Friday night," says event chairman Robbie Guard. "You've got all these teams from all different areas. We get a lot of teams from the surrounding area and Cape Girardeau. A lot of people know people on a team, so they go out and socialize and have fun."

While teams can check in as early as 9 a.m. Aug. 24, the Jaycees' barbecue stand and Port Cape's drink stand open to the public at 4:30 and 5 p.m., respectively. The Mike Renick Band takes the stage at 8 p.m.

Richard Jones, left, Ennis Hinkebein II and Dwayne Kirchhoff with the Pine Hills Barbecue team of Jackson prepare their entry of pulled pork during the 19th annual Cape Girardeau Jaycees BBQ Fest at Arena Park. (Southeast Missourian file photo)

"With the Jaycees doing the barbecue stand, you can get just like the guys are cooking," Guard says. "Get a cocktail, listen to Renick, walk around and see where teams are from." Guard says checking out the teams' RVs and barbecue setups is also a lot of fun.

On Saturday, the competition heats up with teams competing in four categories: chicken, pork ribs (loin or spare), pork (shoulder/butt/picnic) and brisket (beef). Teams that compete in all four categories are also eligible for the Grand Champion prize, which comes with a trophy and $2,000 cash prize. The reserve grand champion receives $750, and first- through fifth-place in individual categories also receive cash prizes.

But the money isn't the only incentive for competitors.

When the Jaycees took over the BBQ Fest from the Cape Girardeau Area Chamber of Commerce, the event was sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbeque Society. The KCBS, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting and enjoying barbecue, sanctions more than 400 contests across the country.

Guard says that when the Jaycees took over, the governor at the time issued a proclamation that the Cape BBQ Fest would be a state championship event.

"Those points can help qualify (competitors) for the Grand Royale in Kansas City -- the big event," Guard says. "For us, being state championship, (means) our winner automatically qualifies (for the Grand Royale)."

So there's a lot on the line when judging begins at on Aug. 25. And though spectators can't sample the entries -- that privilege is reserved for the KCBS judges -- they can observe the teams getting the food ready.

"If you show up at 10:30 (Saturday morning), you can see how true competition goes, with teams getting containers ready and turning in meat, which is really cool," Guard says.

Craig Crawford bastes a grill full of chicken thighs during the 19th annual Cape Girardeau Jaycees BBQ Fest at Arena Park. (Southeast Missourian file photo)

The winners are announced around 3 p.m. or as soon as the results are tabulated.

Guard says the BBQ Fest has grown over the years, a trend the Jaycees hope continues.

"The ultimate objective is to take this to something noticed at a national level," he says. "We're getting more and more attention. Last year we were over 45 teams from six states. In 2010, we had most teams we've ever had. We would like to get it to where we have over 100 teams."

Want to go?

The 20th annual Cape BBQ Fest will be Friday, Aug. 24 and Saturday, Aug. 25 at Arena Park.

Food stands will open at 4:30 p.m. Aug. 24, with the Mike Renick Band performing at 8 p.m.

Awards will be presented at 3 p.m. (or as soon as results are tabulated) Aug. 25.