Countdown To The American Royal: Some Of The Best In Barbeque

The World Series of Barbeque, also known as the American Royal Barbeque contest, is less than a month away, and competition barbeque teams from around the country are making plans to attend. On Labor Day Weekend, August 31 through September 3, Kansas Speedway will be rocking. But this time, it won’t be NASCAR but KCBS (Kansas City BBQ Society) that will be in charge of the rules. “The iconic contest is now in its 38th year” (via The KansasCity Star). And, it won’t be race cars, but instead grills and smokers, that will be competing. But, as usual, the competitors will be some of the best in the business and the Kansas Speedway will be the place to hang, especially for those who love barbeque.

The American Royal is four days packed with all things barbeque. From a celebrity cook off and Texas Hold ‘Em Tournament to a class to become a “certified” barbeque judge, Day 1 kicks off the event. The American Royal holds three barbeque cook offs over the four days, including a Kids’ Q, a barbeque competition just for the kids. In addition to that, there are food vendors, a beer garden, carnival rides, live entertainment, and fireworks, just to name a few of the other festivities.

Second in order of turn-in are pork ribs.
Pork ribs are one of the four meat categories judged in competition barbeque.

Each of the barbeque competitions consists of four individual meat contests: chicken, pork ribs, pork, and beef brisket, plus overall. Each meat is turned in, individually, at specified times starting at noon with chicken. Then every 30 minutes later, there is another “turn-in” until all four types of meat have been turned in for judging, by 1:30 p.m. Each type of meat turned is judged on three factors: taste, tenderness, and appearance. Taste is the most heavily weighted and each factor can earn up to 10 points. And, with six judges tasting and rating each meat, there is a total available point value of 180. Needless to say, earning a 180 is a big deal.

The first of the barbeque contests is the Invitational. In order to qualify for this event, a team must have won, or been Grand Champion, of an appropriately sanctioned barbeque contest during the last year. No second-place finishers allowed. Then, after receiving the coveted invitation and entering the contest, a team is allowed to compete. Last year, there were 180 teams in the Invitational, including some of the very best barbeque cooks in the nation. 913 BBQ, led by Bethany McAllister of Kansas City, was the winning team and since Bethany took last year’s title, she and her team are automatically invited back for this year to give her a chance to defend the title.

Brisket will be judged once again at this year's World Series of Barbeque.
Beef brisket is the last of the four meat categories to be judged in competition barbeque.

The second of the barbeque contests is the Open. Like the name says, this contest is open to any team “who can come down and show off their best barbeque skills” (via The American Royal). For the Open, in addition to the usual four types of meat, there are categories for sausage, sides, and desserts. The judges for the Open probably don’t need to eat again for a while after that contest is over. Last year’s winner, Iowa’s Smokey D’s BBQ, led by Darren Warth, is signed up again this year. Look for Darren and his team to compete hard to defend last year’s title.

The World Series of Barbeque is coming. Be sure to mark your calendar for Labor Day Weekend and plan to visit this prestigious barbeque event. And, if you really like it, take a barbeque judging class and sign up to judge next year. It is sure to be some of the best-tasting barbeques in the country.

[Featured image by Colin E. Braley/AP Images]