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In Honor of Daphne, BBQ & Old Glory

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March 3, 2015

"So that truth, justice, excellence in Barbeque and the American Way of LIfe may be strengthened and preserved forever....."

Those are the fundamental words in our BBQ oath at KCBS, a nonprofit organization that is fueled by the passion of tens of thousands of members, judges, teams, volunteers, contest organizers and sponsors throughout America — and the world.

So yes, it saddens us that last weekend in Daphne, Alabama, our love of BBQ and commitment to sanctioning top-notch competitions for the past 29 years got mired up in some contest confusion, and a temporary decision that led to a quick fire of controversy.

Before we explain what happened, let us make a few things very clear:

  • KCBS is as red-blooded as any American
  • We not only believe in the American way of life, and the flag we all love so dear, but we built its motto into our oath
  • We believe in great BBQ, apple pie and the Pledge of Allegiance
  • We even believe in occasionally grilling vegetarian food (because it makes a great complement to BBQ)
  • We fly American flags proudly, as well as KCBS and BBQ flags (we hope you see them everywhere)
  • We believe in helping others
  • We believe in feeding the hungry (just in the past 12 months, we have donated 115,000 meals to food banks)
  • We believe in helping dozens of charities (in fact, we have donated over $100,000 in grants, and we are connected to more than 300 community charities in 2015 alone)
  • And we love cities like Daphne, Alabama, where the only thing stronger than BBQ smoke is American pride.

So in the famous words of the great American Paul Harvey, here's the "rest of the story."

KCBS has sanctioned more than 5,000 contests throughout America in the past 29 years. And as any contest organizer will tell you, there's a lot of paperwork to pulling off a contest. From health inspections to permits, sign ordinances to vending restrictions, there's almost as many different rules as there are contests because local ordinances have the ultimate say (and trust us, we wish there was only ONE rule or ONE ruling body that controlled this throughout the nation).

As one of our most prominent BBQ tours rolled into Daphne, Alabama on February 27th, we were reviewing local rules and codes as usual. And to be quite frank, we simply found the codes on signage a little confusing and in certain parts, restricting. (But remember, we are BBQ'ers, not attorneys). At one point, we thought flags were considered signs. During that 7-hour period, our local tournament director decided that all signs and flags should come down while we assessed what the most courteous and legal thing to do would be. And yes, due to our local director being extremely cautious, American flags were part of our assessment and temporary stay.

In hindsight, we can honestly say that we BLEW the original call. But thankfully, we CORRECTED it within 7 hours. Nothing made us more proud than telling our BBQ teams to hoist the Red White & Blue as they wished, and that if there was something inappropriate in doing so, we would take the heat.

Well, we did take that heat. And still are. And so does Daphne, as some very proud Americans (understandably so) took to social media and exercised their First Amendment rights about how stupid it is to ban an American flag (we totally agree).

Fortunately, on Saturday when the competition occurred, any BBQ fan, team or judge who wanted to fly an American flag had the full rights and support of KCBS to do so.

And we've since learned, after multiple talks with Mayor Dane Haygood of Daphne, Ala., on Monday, March 2nd, that the City of Daphne fully supports that right as well.

So in our BBQ world, and in the City of Daphne, Alabama, let there be no mistake. Old Glory will fly proudly and prominently whenever a great American wants to display the Stars & Stripes.

From all of us at KCBS, a family that surrounds the globe, we would like to simply say to the fine folks of Daphne that we apologize for ANY dishonor that our temporary decision and confusion on the sign ordinance caused during our competition. We assure each and every one of you that it will never happen again, in Daphne, nor ANY city in America.

If it does, it will only be because someone pries the flagpole from our BBQ-stained hands.


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