BBQ Tour Stop #7: Wichita, KSJune 16, 2010 Over the past two years, we were camping out on the soccer fields in Tryon, NC on the second weekend of June so spending time in Wichita, KS at the Kansas Masters BBQ Competition was a new experience this year. It was nice to be right in the backyard of where we grew up. The competition is held in Wichita's Cowtown Museum right on the river by the old saloon, livery stable and general store.
We loaded onsite Thursday afternoon in an open field, as the local stagecoach passed by and gunfighters were walking the dusty street. As teams loaded in Friday, the Mayor of Wichita, who also happens to be a Pitmaster himself, asked us how we snuck into town. "Right down 400 and 54, why?" I guess he had the police department on standby to catch us coming into town and was planning on parading us through the downtown area. There must have been some other emergency going on because it is kind of hard to miss our 30' trailer!
Because the event is held on Saturday only, Friday evening was spent visiting with teams and signing them up for the Kingsford Points Chase. We had more sign-ups in Wichita than we have had at any Kingsford event so far! Chris and I were invited to eat at one of the local South Central Kansas BBQ Society member's booth where Derek of Pig In, Pig Out fixed prime rib. We've been invited to plenty of Friday night dinners but this was the first prime rib dinner and we could see why Derek has won numerous competitions for his cooking prowess.
Friday and Saturday called for a chance of rain and thunderstorms but everything went around Wichita. Saturday started out overcast and comfortable but that soon changed to clear skies and low 90's! While Chris doesn't agree, Kansas trees are fairly sparse. Breakfast on Saturday was served under the lone tree in the parking area. That said, shade was in high demand...
Since Kansas is where Chris and I grew up, we had family come by to visit in addition to some of my high school friends. It was great introducing them to competitive BBQ and this wonderful world of BBQ that we are fortunate enough to live in.
One thing about Wichita that we learned real quickly was the political clout that was in attendance at the competition. Not only did we have the Mayor of Wichita but we also had "Admiral" Windwagon Smith Devin Hansen who reigns over the local Riverfest event as a member of the Wichita Wagonmasters. I was told that the Admiral and the Wagonmasters showed up at a city council meeting and put a challenge to the Mayor for a local chili cook-off. So what better a setting than a KCBS sanctioned event to see who was the better cook at the Great American BBQ Tour's GrillMaster competition? It was a pretty even group of onlookers with some Wagonmasters in the crowd along with friends of the Mayor. After much deliberation of the non-partisan judges, the Mayor's grilled chicken sandwich was chosen as the best in Wichita. I don't think this rivalry will be over anytime soon though...
With some top teams attending, it really was a nail biter to see who would be crowned Grand Champion. There were quite a few teams getting four category calls like "Smell What's Cookin", Quau and JP Custom Smoke in addition to lots of three category calls. JP Custom Smoke took home his second Grand Championship in as many weeks and Rob with Munchin Hogs @ the Hilton won Reserve Grand and the $1,000 Kingsford Points Chase check!
Mike (& Chris) Peters