Maybe you've heard about it and maybe you live here and can experience it any time your heart desires. Kansas City barbecue is legendary.
Kansas City's earliest barbecue restaurant on record opened in 1907 and was owned by Tennessee native Henry Perry. Charlie and Arthur Bryant got their start with Mr. Perry, as did Arthur Pinkard who was the pitmaster at Ol' Kentuck Bar-B-Q when it was purchased by the Gates family. From that point on, the rest is history. Nowadays, folks come to Kansas City for many reasons but while they're here, trying out a famous Kansas City barbeque joint is almost always on their "must do list".
Barbecue is part of our culture and our identity in Kansas City. Gates, Bryant's and L.C.'s still keep us connected to our barbecue roots but other famous places have grown up over the years to further solidify our claim to being the barbecue capital of the world. Places like BB's Lawnside Bar-B-Q, Fiorella's Jack Stack Barbecue, Hayward's' Pit Bar-B-Que and Oklahoma Joe's Barbeque carry on the tradition of fantastic smoked meats and all the tasty sides. In fact, one could spend a month in Kansas City, eating barbecue twice daily and not experience all of the great places from which we have to choose!
In addition to the restaurants, Kansas City is home to the Kansas City Barbeque Society, the premier sanctioning organization for competition barbeque events in the United States, sanctioning over 300 contests nation-wide each year. Kansas City and the surrounding areas are home to a good sized percentage of these contests with many of the suburbs and outlying communities actually hosting a contest at some point during the year. Kansas City itself is home to the world's largest competition, the American Royal Barbecue.
The Royal, as it is known to competitors, held the first weekend in October, has been going strong for over 30 years. Two contests are held in conjunction with this event - an invitational, open to all grand champions of other sanctioned contests across the nation, and an open, where any team can sign up to see how their barbeque stacks up against the best. The invitational attracts around 100 teams while the open is usually around 500 teams!
While many people know of "The Royal", most folks aren't aware that there are multitudes of smaller contests in the area that host anywhere from 25 to 100 teams. I organize an event in Pleasant Hill, Missouri, about 25 miles southeast of Kansas City, that welcomes around 50 teams each year.
Competition barbecue is fast becoming big business in the United States. With large sponsors and bigger pay checks to the winners, interest is growing. And thanks to barbecue programs that focus on competition aired by networks like Versus, TLC and Food Network, the general public is finding out about these events.
Having lived in Missouri practically my entire life and around the Kansas City area for a majority of my adult life, I've had the great pleasure of experiencing much of what Kansas City barbecue and the barbecue culture have to offer. I've eaten at many of the famous spots and found some hidden gems. I have also gotten involved in competition barbecue, forming my own team and have entered over 50 contests in the last five years where we have won many awards for our barbecue. To say I'm familiar with barbecue would be an understatement.
Armed with such experience and knowledge, I hope to provide information here at Examiner.com that will help local residents, visitors to the area and those interested in the competition aspect of barbecue. I look forward to your feedback as well.
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