COLUMBIA - Rows of trailers attached to grills stood side by side at the entrance of the Boone County Fair on Friday afternoon. Banners with names such as The Meteorites, Team Q and Smokin' Till the Sun Comes Up hung from the fronts of trailers and tents. As the trailers' owners began to unpack chairs, tarps, grills and cooking equipment, people began to mingle and settle in for the next day's cooking events.
It was time to barbecue.
According to Aimee Olmstead, coordinator for the event, 33 adult teams and 11 children participated in the barbecue contest Saturday.
Children participated in the Kid's Q, the children's event in the competition featuring ground meat products. Lauren Martin, 3, was the youngest participant the event has ever had.
"I wanted to do it because I like cooking with my mom and dad," Martin said.
Martin cooked a Hawaiian turkey burger and won fifth place in the Kid's Q category.
Adult competitors don't have to call Boone County home - one team came all the way from Iowa to compete - but all participants must be members of the Kansas City Barbeque Organization. The nonprofit group for barbecue lovers boasts 8,000 members worldwide, according to its Web site.
The adult portion of the event involved four categories; chicken, ribs, brisket and pork shoulder. In order to place in the top ten for the event, teams must enter all four categories.
Teams prepare their food Friday night so the meat has time to cook and marinate for Saturday. On Saturday, the competition moves quickly through the four categories, with half an hour between each.
As the time to turn in dishes approaches, teams frantically finish the details of the meats and place them on a bed of parsley in plastic foam boxes. With sturdy hands, teams handle their dishes like they are precious gems while they walk them over to be judged.
Food is judged based on appearance, taste and tenderness by a group of judges trained by the Kansas City Barbeque Society.
Prizes were given to the top ten in each category. Grand champion and runner-up grand champion designations were also awarded. Child and adult winners receive cash prizes, and the grand champion of the adult event receives $1,500, Olmstead said.
"There are no disgruntled losers. We're all happy for each other," said John Cupp, a judge for the event.
The grand champion of the event was Belly Brothers BBQ from Hallsville.
"The friendship and comradeship between all the teams is the best part of the event for me. I think anyone here would tell you the same thing," said Darreyl Lampkins, a Belly Brothers BBQ team member.