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BBQ starting young




Jacob Pahls had the blues Friday evening. But not for long.

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Jacob Pahls had the blues Friday evening. But not for long.

His scrumptious-looking meatloaf dish with bacon hanging over the sides slipped out of his hands and hit the asphalt with a crash. Although it didn't have far to fall from the 5-year-old's grasp, the Pyrex dish broke, leaving his hamburger and bacon on the sizzling pavement nearly hot enough to cook it.

The Hays boy looked horrified as his father ran up to grab him and give him a hug. Their disappointment didn't last long.

"No problem," Mark Pahls told his son. "We'll just start over."

People's hearts went out to the youngster, and Jacob soon had in hand another package of hamburger -- to try again.

"Now, we're not going to be able to do the same thing, OK?" Pahls told Jacob. "We'll have you make some patties."

While adult BBQ teams set up shop across the street in Municipal Park on the first day of the annual Blues, BBQ and Bargains in downtown Hays, young barbecuers were busy mixing and grilling their specialties in the parking lot of the Big Creek Technical Center.

There were 20 spots available for the inaugural KidsQ, sponsored by Miner Family Dentistry, and all but one were snatched up.

A youth division was added this year to the event, in its fourth year of being sponsored by the Kansas City Barbeque Society.

"We just wanted to involve more of the community," said Michelle Callahan, a committee member of the Hays event. "We thought this was a good way to involve the teams' families, get more people down to the park."

Jon Williams from the Kansas City area, who travels the country putting on similar contests along with his wife, Clara, agreed.

"This is a good way to involve the teams' families," he said.

With a 6-month-old baby at home, Angie Pahls hadn't been planning to attend the event. This was an outing for Dad and Jacob, the middle child of their five sons.

But when her husband called and informed her of the mishap downtown, she began gathering more ingredients to bring to the park.

Mark Pahls works for North Central Kansas Technical College, and his office is in the Big Creek building. When he saw event organizers preparing for the coming BBQ, he asked about it and learned of the children's division this year. He thought Jacob would be interested in participating.

"He enjoys being in the kitchen," Pahls said. "As soon as we fire up the grill, he's right there, wanting to help."

Each of the young participants ages 5 to 15 were separated into two different age divisions. Ava Gillespie from Quinter won the younger age division for competitors up to age 10, and Lexie Truan from Gorham was the winner of the older age group, as well as being named the grand champion of all the youth participants.

The top division winners each were awarded $25 in Chamber Cheques, while Lexie also won $100 cash and a limestone plaque as the overall grand champion.

Other top-three winners were Riley Kershner and Kylie Wiesner in the younger age group and Trevor Moore and Haleigh Spray in the older division. Second-place winners received $15 in Chamber Cheques and third-place, $10 cheques. All 19 participants received a participation certificate and an apron.

Thirty-eight adult teams came from all across Kansas and one from Oklahoma to compete.

The Blues part of the event was covered by live performances from the Brandon Miller band at the park. Another band, Rockin' Jake, also appeared in downtown, at Singers on East 12th Street.

And shoppers were treated to bargains at downtown Hays businesses and at The Mall. Sales at The Mall, 2918 Vine, continue today from noon to 6 p.m.

The contest kicked off early Saturday morning and continued throughout the day, with the announcement of winners of adult divisions set for later that afternoon.

See Monday's paper for a recap of the adult competition.