The Barton County Fair Board and its Barbecue Committee have invited cookers from across the nation to bring the heat to cold central Kansas for the third-annual Winter Q barbecue cookoff. The event is set for Thursday, Friday and Saturday at the Expo Complex west of Great Bend.
Although there are no activities for the public this year, anyone one is invited to come out Saturday and meet the cooking teams, said Barbecue Committee Chairman Kent Romine. Many of these competitors have been featured on the Food Network program Pit Masters.
In its first year, news of the competition spread like a prairie fire, attracting 42 competitive teams both professional and novices. And it continues to be popular. So far, Romine said, there about 60 teams taking part this time around.
Teams are coming from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, Wyoming and, perhaps, Arkansas.
Although near spring-like conditions are expected to return by this weekend, in case of bad weather, the snow dates are Feb. 25 and 26.
"This marks one of the opening contests of the season in Central USA," Romine said. "A lot of cookers are ready to get started and this is a great opportunity."
The event will spill over into the adjacent Kansas Army National Guard Armory where the judging will take place. Expo I hall will house the professional cooks.
Barbecue-related activities get underway Thursday, Feb. 10, with a Kansas City Barbecue Society-sponsored certified judging class from 7-9:30 p.m. in the Armory. The class is already full.
Things will get cooking with the turn in for the appetizer competition at 6:30 p.m. Friday in Expo I. At 7 p.m., the appetizer judging will take place in the armory. There will be a chili feed for cooks and judges and the cooks meeting at 7 p.m.
Action for the contestants and judges will start Saturday with first category turn-in at noon in the armory. Judges need to be seated by 10 a.m. and the judges meeting will start at 10:30. Following the meeting, judges need to be back in their seats by 11:40 a.m.
Categories will come in half -hour intervals with the awards ceremony set for 2:30 p.m. in Expo I.
"We get some really big names in for this," Romine said. Numerous national winners have already committed to take part.
The contest is sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbecue Society and contest organizers want as many certified judges to take part as possible. "These guys take this very seriously," Romine said. "They come a long ways and spend a lot of money."
For more information on any of the events, contact Romine at 620-793-2985 or visit www.kansaswinterq.com. omine said there will also be info on the 12th-annual Central Kansas Barbecue Cookoff, www.centralkansasbbq.com and seventh-annual Chest to Chest brisket national cookoff contest, www.chesttochest.com set for Labor Day weekend in Great Bend.