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Downtown barbecue contest gives public a taste

7/9/2012

By RANDY GONZALES

rgonzales@dailynews.net

This year, people can do more than just smell what's being barbecued.

The fourth annual Blues, BBQ and Bargains is July 20 and 21 at Municipal Park, First and Main. In years past, the average person on the street couldn't get a taste of what was cooking. Not so this year.

From 5 to 10 p.m. July 20, people can exchange dollars for BBQ Bucks in order to sample the participating barbecue contestants' food. More than half of the entries have agreed to let their food be sampled.

The contest has four meats: ribs, chicken, brisket and pork. A fifth meat -- bison -- is optional.

"We wanted to see what meat we could do that was unique, and we decided on bison," said Traci Konrade, executive director of Downtown Hays Development Corp.

The committee also has added a "pit crew" for each griller this year; more than half the grillers come from out of town. The pit crew answers questions and helps any way it can.

The contest is certified by the Kansas City Barbecue Society, which will have judges present during the weekend.

"From what we've heard from a lot of the competitors, they like to have 75 to 100 percent certified judges, as opposed to community," said Sabrina William, a contest organizer.

The weekend is more than just barbecuing; the contest starts at 8 a.m. July 20 at Municipal Park.

"We've added quite a bit," said Pam Joy, contest director. "The committee has taken on a bit more this year. It's fun."

July 20 activities:

New this year is KidsQ, a barbecue contest starting at 5:30 p.m. July 20 for children who register.

There also is a sponsor social at 5:30 p.m., another first.

There will be a cruise-in for vehicles at 7 p.m.

There will be live performances that evening from the Brandon Miller band (7 to 11 p.m. at Municipal Park) and the Rockin' Jake band (1 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. at Singers, 114 E. 12th).

There also will be a free moon bounce at the park from 5 to 9 p.m.

There will be a beer garden at the park from 5 to 11 p.m.

July 21 activities:

The barbecue contest continues at 7 a.m.

There will be dental screenings, blood pressure and blood sugar testing at First Care Clinic.

Also in the Chestnut Street District, Sternberg Museum of Natural History will let children interact with live animals.

The Hays Police Department will have Ident-A-Kid fingerprinting.

Hays Aquatic Park will have discounted admission from noon to 7 p.m.

As well, merchants will have sales in conjunction with the event July 20 to 22.

KCBS award winners will be announced at 3:30 p.m. July 21.

To enter the barbecue contest or to volunteer, visit haysbluesandbbq.com or call the Hays Welcome Center at (785) 621-4171.