Two Days of Barbecue Bring Hot Competition

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Kansas City Barbeque Society and Memphis in May are the Miss America and Miss USA of the competitive-barbecue circuit: The organizations run parallel competitions that crown different winners. This weekend, though, the two will converge for the first time at Safeway's National Capital Barbecue Battle on Pennsylvania Avenue downtown between Ninth and 14th streets NW.

The 16th annual event, a fundraiser for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington, bills itself as the nation's first (and only) dual-sanctioned barbecue competition. That means that on Saturday, competitors among the 40 or so teams will follow KCBS rules in categories including beef brisket, chicken and pork, and the winner will get an invitation to the group's signature event, the American Royal in Kansas City.

On Sunday, teams will follow MIM rules and compete in pork shoulder, ribs and whole hog, with the winner guaranteed a spot in next year's Memphis in May world championship.

Prizes total $40,000.

According to spokeswoman Suzanne Tubis, organizers had considered the possibility of picking an overall winner from the two sides, but differences in judging practices and point systems made that impossible.

Though the competitors are not allowed to give samples or sell food during the contests, the public (an estimated 120,000 attended last year) will have plenty to taste nonetheless, from 16 vendors (including local chain Red Hot & Blue) and at demonstrations on six cooking stages and in a special Safeway pavilion. And attendees will be able to vote for their favorite barbecue purveyors in a people's-choice contest.

For those who want something other than food to occupy their time, the event also will feature 30 rock, R&B, jazz and blues bands on three stages; interactive exhibits such as the NBA Nation basketball tour; and other attractions.

Safeway National Capital Barbecue Battle, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for children ages 6 to 12 and free for those younger than 6. Go tohttp://www.bbqdc.comor call 202-828-3099.

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