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Where There's Smoke ... There's Barbecue

Parole Rotary promises to feed the hungry and comfort the afflicted with its Naptown barBAYq contest and festival

This spring, the worlds of competitive cooking and barbecue culture will collide in Annapolis, as the capital city unveils its first-ever barbecue contest.

Parole Rotary’s 2011 Naptown BarBAYq, planned for May 13 and 14 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, is a first-time event with big hopes. If it works, it will be a grand success on many scores, including bankrolling charities of Parole Rotary’s choosing. 

Visiting a Colorado Rotary chapter’s own barbecue contest, Rotarian Bill Fine ate some fine barbecue. Just as impressive was the charitable take of the two-day festival: $70,000 from 26,000 people and 160 vendors. 

Thus was born Parole Rotary’s plan to join the dozen or so Rotaries and legions of other charities in sponsoring a barbecue competition sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbeque Society.

Attach the words Kansas City to the word barbecue and certain lovers of the slow-cooked meat respond like Pavlov’s dogs. The Kansas City Barbecue Society has parlayed its city’s reputation to success in a new and amazing commercial forum: the business of running barbecue competitions. 

“There are a huge bunch of people who live for this,” Rotarian Don Chomas told Bay Weekly. “As soon as our competition appeared on the Kansas City Barbeque Society webpage,” aspirant contestant teams and judges “started coming to us.”

That’s because the 25-year-old nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting and enjoying barbeque is the world’s largest organization of barbeque and grilling enthusiasts with over 14,000 members worldwide.

The Kansas City Barbeque Society sets the rules for competitions that run all around the country. Like 300 or so other competitions each year, Parole Rotary’s 2011 Naptown BarBAYq will draw 48 teams of dedicated barbecue chefs who’ll descend on Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in wheeled cooking rigs they call Big Ass Trucks to cook all night for bragging rights and championship points. What’s more, they’ll pay Rotary for the privilege, $250 to $300 depending on the size of their setup. 

“Some teams are a couple of guys with tents,” says Chomas. “Others come in 50-foot RVs with amazing equipment.”

However they come, they’ll cook on wood-only fires, preparing chicken, beef brisket, pulled pork and pork ribs that will be inspected on site by the county health department before the cooking begins Friday night. 

Judging begins at noon Saturday. Like contestants, judges are Kansas City Barbeque Society members who’ve trained for the honor. The Society specifies the number of judges as well as the rules they judge by. Parole figures that 48 teams of cookers will need a judging contingent of 56 members. So a lot of eating will go on in the judges’ tent.

Meanwhile, you and I will be drooling, unsatiated by the offerings of food and drink that keep the festival lively and help Parole Rotary raise thousands of dollars for charity. 

Because there’s the rub. I’ve been to such a festival, in the town of Columbia, Missouri, and I hungered — and how I hungered! — in vain. City health department restrictions would not allow the eager contestants to sell their slow-cooked barbecue to festival-goers.

Will Naptown BarBAYq leave us all hungry?

Chomas all but promises it will not. All but, because Parole Rotary does not yet have the permits required to sell to the public. He’s sure — almost — he can get them, and envisions an afternoon tasting-by-ticket to choose a People’s Favorite. 

I’m rooting for Rotary, because the cooking smoke sent up by all those chefs can cause a riot if the people are not fed. I’m rooting for Rotary because they’re dedicating their take to the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center Pediatric Oncology Program plus other local charities by application. 

With food, fun, music and the Major League Lacrosse Chesapeake Bayhawks, charitable partners in the event who play their first home game of the season at the stadium the Saturday night of Naptown BarBAYq, it should be a great addition to the lineup of Chesapeake Country festivals. 

Hopes are high. “In a couple of years, I’d like to see us bring in 65 or 70,000 dollars,” said Rotarian Fine.

I’m sure they will. If you and I get to eat the barbecue.

Naptown barBAYq is proud to formally announce WE WILL HAVE PROFESSIONAL COMPETITION BBQ AVAILABLE TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC!!

Two ways to get a taste.

First, you can purchase a ticket to our tasting tent / People's Choice competition. This will enable you to eat competition bbq until you explode then vote for your favorite.

Second, we have 3 teams that will be selling BBQ during the entire time of the festival WHILE they compete. Check out Local Flavors Catering, Branded 72 and Jacked Up BBQ.

I'm so sad to see the response to the BarBayQ article! I read the article and immediately told my friends about the event- I am a HUGE barbecue fan (I make a North Carolina variety that rocks my world, ha), and I love all kinds- Carolina, Memphis, Kansas City. Anyway, I thought the article made the event sound really fun, SUPER tasty, unique to the area and really reiterated the fact that the proceeds would be going to a great cause, as, according to the article, it seems all the proceeds of Rotary-sanctioned events do.

There was some ambiguity to the permit process, but even if the process was just begun, though it is a process, I imagine it really can't be guaranteed. (Things happen, right?) Still, the permits seem to be more of an after-thought than a main takeaway. If anything, after making your mouth water and your stomach growl, the article puts the reader's support in the Rotary and their pursuit of the permits. By the last line, I was hungry, and marking my calendar with my fingers crossed!

I hope I was not too severe. I am a big fan of Bay Weekly and I am glad they ran the article... but I was very upset to hear the responses from my friends and associates and thought I should clear up any misunderstanding.

We are indeed hoping that your mouth will water, and we plan to make sure you then get to eat to your heart's content. Please continue sharing info about the event with your friends. We really are nice folks working hard to make this event good for everyone, even those who have walked away from other contests somewhat disappointed.

Hello Bay Weekly!

Just to clear up a few misunderstandings:

We do not yet have our permits because we have just begun the permit process and not because there is debate as to whether or not we will get them. Your article is misleading.

Also, teams do not pay Rotary. They pay an entry fee - all the entry fee money (and then some - we LOSE money on this component of the event) are then PAID BACK in the form of prizes to the winners. Again, your article is misleading.

Further, there will be no excuse for anyone to go hungry. There will be tons, literally tons of food at the event, available to all. Not only is your statement misleading, it is wrong. Whether or not you will get an opportunity to try competitive bbq is quite a different story. We have every expectation that competitive bbq will be available to the general public in one form or another - we are working on the details. To raise a question as to whether or not this will happen is unfair at this early stage as we have hardly begun the process and have not yet submitted the forms nor met with the health department. The real point, however, is that anyone who wants to eat bbq at our event will be able to eat bbq. This I guarantee.

Your article will probably do a good job in discouraging people from coming to the event for the wrong reasons. In a very informal survey, I showed the article to 10 different people and they all reacted about the same = This does not sound like a good event. I cannot imagine you were hoping to disuade attendees, but maybe you were?

The first ever Naptown barBAYq is well on its way to becoming one of the premier events in Annapolis. It has been a full-time job for several of us at Parole Rotary Foundation for about 6 months so far, and yes, we have a significant amount of work to do before May 13-14th. There is no reason to doubt us; we have a proven track record of success. Nevertheless, we need the support of the community to succeed - the same community we have been supporting in many ways for more than 25 years.
I trust the Naptown barBAYq will pass the Rotary 4 way test:
Is it the Truth?
Is it fair to all concerned?
Will it build goodwill and better friendships?
Will it be beneficial to all concerned?