August 8, 2012 9:07:24 AM
Jan Swoope - [email protected]
There are some changes coming to the annual Roast-n-Boast barbecue cooking state championship, and organizers anticipate a fired-up showdown Aug. 24-25 at the Columbus Fairgrounds. Teams will vie for titles, bragging rights and cash awards totaling $11,000.
For many years, Roast-n-Boast has been run under the mantle of the Memphis Barbecue Network (formerly Memphis in May). This year, for the first time, Roast-n-Boast will be a Kansas City Barbeque Society-sanctioned contest.
A primary difference is in the judging. KCBS competitions rely solely on blind judging, as opposed to MBN rules, which incorporate on-site judging at teams' booths.
"With KCBS, there's no presentation to judges at the booth," remarked Mike Law, vice president of the Roast-n-Boast committee. Response, to date, has been encouraging.
"Last year we had a total of 37 teams. We've already got over 40 now, and this is usually when they always start calling in (to enter)," said Paul Clardy, committee president. "We hope to have somewhere around 60 teams."
Experienced teams in the sanctioned Barbecue Competition will man grills all night Aug. 24, perfecting entries for the categories of Ribs, Pork, Chicken and Beef Brisket. A Backyard Competition will award prizes in Shoulders and Ribs. Ancillary contests include Anything But, Best Sauce, Best Booth, and Desserts.
Winners are expected to be announced Aug. 25 between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m.
Eat, dance, play
While teams will concentrate on how best to impress a large panel of judges, everyone else can enjoy a barbecue bonanza and an increased emphasis on family fun Saturday, Aug. 25.
At a People's Choice tent Aug. 25, from 10 am.-2 p.m., the public can pick their own barbecue champ. For $5, anyone can come in and taste dozens of samples of some of the best barbecue in the South and cast a vote.
"The tent will be manned by United Way of Lowndes County, the organization we're donating to this year," said Law. "All the proceeds from the tent go directly to United Way."
"We're just thrilled about it," said United Way Executive Director Jan Ballard. "We're looking forward to having volunteers on site. This is a wonderful way to enjoy great barbecue from competitors you may only get to sample once a year -- and have a good time, too, with the family activities planned."
Those include jumpers, miniature train rides, face painting, games and merchandise vendors, as well as food vendors. The Mississippi University for Women radio station, WMUW 88.5, will broadcast live from the site.
Admission into the fairgrounds is free all day Saturday.
Live entertainment this year will be focused on Friday night, Aug. 24, with music by Hartle Road at 6 p.m. and by Deacon Jones and the Late Night at 9 p.m. Admission to the fairgrounds Friday night is $5.
Aug. 16 auction
A live auction at 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 16, at the American Legion Hall at 308 Chubby Dr. in Columbus will generate more funds and enthusiasm leading up to Roast-n-Boast. Electronics, gift packages, furniture and many other items will be up for bid.
"We want everybody to come out an enjoy the auction," encouraged Law. "We're getting items donated every day; it's free to attend and it's a lot of fun."
Both Clardy and Law expressed thanks for volunteers who work year-round to make Roast-n-Boast successful -- from helping with a $5,000 draw-down and a Market Street Festival food booth each spring to putting on an annual summer golf tournament.
"And we especially thank Columbus Air Force Base volunteers who help so much with our security, the gates and other things at the cooking contest," said Clardy.
With a little more than two weeks to go, organizers feel the pieces -- great team competition, music, food and craft vendors, more family fun, People's Choice, free Saturday admission -- are falling into place.
"We're just really pumped up about Roast-n-Boast," Clardy concluded.
For more information, contact Clardy at 662-549-1515, or Law at 662-549-5054.
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.