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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Annual Jaycees' Barbecue Cook-Off declared state championship event

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Jaycee members, including, from left, Lee Atwill, chapter president; Allen Williams, annual barbecue cook-off chairman; and Jason Rhew, barbecue cook-off judge chairman, show off a proclamation signed by Gov. Jay Nixon declaring the Annual Jaycees Barbeque Cook-Off as a state championship event.(Staff photo by Lecia Forester)
The Kennett Jaycees recently received a proclamation from the office of Missouri Governor Jay Nixon naming its Annual Show-Me State Barbeque Cook-Off as a state championship cook-off.

This year will mark the event's 31st year, and plans are to host it April 6-7, 2012, at the Delta Fairgrounds.

When asked about how the proclamation came about, Chapter President Lee Atwill said that he had made application and the process took around four months to complete and become official.

In its second year as being a member of the Kansas City Barbeque Society (KCBS), participants come from all over the State of Missouri as well as surrounding states to compete in the food challenge. Last year, there were 26 participating teams which was the largest number of teams participating since the cook off began. This year, officials estimate 35 teams will be involved.

This year will mark the first year as being sanctioned as a state championship and the grand champion of the cook off will receive an invitation to the American Royal Barbeque Cook Off.

When asked the history behind the annual cook off, Allen Williams, cook-off chairman, explained that a former state representative, the late Larry Thomason, had actually started the cook off during his time as a Jaycee.

"The way it originally started out was as a cook-off and a back yard [event] and then Larry Thomason got it sanctioned [through the] then 'Memphis in May' [organization]," Williams said.

He added that through the years, the event has grown from a back yard event to the organizations biggest project of the year, which now includes a carnival and a demolition derby.

This year's carnival will begin on Wednesday, April 4, and will run through Saturday, April 7. During the two-day barbecue event, there will be a people's choice contest on Friday night where the public will judge which chicken wings are the best. Arm bands will be sold which will allow attendees the freedom to sample all of the competing teams chicken wings that night.

There will also be featured music, although a decision has not been made at this time which band will be playing. Rounding out the event will be a demolition derby on Saturday night.

According to Jaycee officials, this event is a major source of funding for the various charitable and community projects that it is involved in. Projects include the Good Neighbors Project, Shoe Project, Fred Calhoun Scholarship, and its annual partnership with Toys for Tots. During the event, the Jaycees also partner with the Boy Scouts who sell tickets at the gate in order to earn a badge for community service.

Entry fee for competing in the cook off will be $250 for all categories which includes chicken, ribs, brisket, and pulled pork. Members said because the judging is "blind judging," it makes it easier for smaller teams to compete. Whenever the judges taste what is in the box, it is not known if the food was cooked on a smaller grill or one that is on a professional trailer.

Judging is done by KCBS-certified judges on taste, texture, tenderness and appearance.

According to Atwill, all scores are then taken and put into a computer and a winner is chosen.

He said that each category is judged by itself and a different winner can be chosen from each category but the grand champion is the overall high number in all of the categories. The grand champion will be announced at 3 p.m., Saturday, April 7.

Prize money given out during the event includes $2,000 for the grand champion, $1,000 for the reserve champion. Monetary prizes are also available in the different categories.

This event not only provides funding for the various projects the Jaycees are involved in throughout the community but it also draws tourism for local businesses as well. Jaycee officials note that the organization, planning, and funding of the cook off is a major undertaking and would not be possible without contributions from area businesses, organizations, and individuals.

Jason Rhew, judge chairman, added that the organization would appreciate any donations and that the Jaycees are planning on sending out sponsorship letters soon.

Sponsorships are $200 and include advertisement in the Jaycees' radio and newspaper ads, as well as banners that are displayed during the event. According to the Jaycees, sponsorship donations are tax deductible and are greatly needed.

Anyone seeking more information on how to become a sponsor or other ways in which to support this cause or participate in the event, contact the following: Jason Rhew, (573) 717-3002, Lee Atwill, (573) 888-2600, or Allen Williams, (573) 717-6875. Donations may be sent to Kennett Jaycees, P.O. Box 165, Kennett, Mo. 63857.

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