There’s smoke! It’s spring! Or fall, or Halloween? What’s going on here?

It seems like we’ve waited all year for spring, but it has finally arrived – it’s Smoke in the Spring this weekend at Osage City. The annual state championship barbecue contest was postponed in April due to the first COVID shutdown of 2020, and eventually rescheduled for Oct. 30-31, 2020.

Due to current COVID conditions, all public portions of the city’s annual celebration of BBQ have been cancelled. But the popular contest will go on, and as the last weekend of the year Kansas City Barbeque Society records team points for the coveted KCBS Team of the Year award, contestants are not only fiercely competing for championship prizes, but also their last points of the season.

Teams are arriving today and getting set up to start cooking. Tonight’s events include a fireworks display around 9 p.m., weather permitting, and the Kids-Q contest, which has a turn-in time of 8 p.m. Also, Robyn Williams is sponsoring the Smoke Spooktacular, a team space decorating contest; judging will be 6-8 p.m. by a mystery group of judges.

Saturday, the contest gets underway with the check-in of judges beginning at 9 a.m. at the Osage City recreation building, followed by the first turn-in in the cook’s choice category at 11:30 a.m. Following at 30-minute intervals, judges taste chicken, ribs, pork butt, brisket, and dessert.

Close to 100 teams are expected for this year’s contest, and about that many certified barbecue judges have been recruited to determine the champion barbecue cookers at Osage City.

Due to COVID, KCBS has put safeguards in place to facilitate social distancing and increase sanitary conditions of the contest. Smoke in the Spring will follow KCBS protocols for meat inspection, team interaction, turn-in, and judging. Masks are required for all who enter the judging area.

The contest is in Jones Park at Osage City. While the public portions of the contest have been cancelled, visitors can observe the cookers at work, but are advised to not bother anyone involved in the competition. All visitors are asked to observe social distancing and wear masks.

 

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