Julie Hanna, left, and Keith Velardo sort T-shirts to give to contestants competing in the upcoming Colorado State BBQ Championship at the Wyman Museum. The event, which will include vendors and entertainment for all ages, is sanctioned by the Kansas City BBQ Society and the Rocky Mountain BBQ Association.

Photo by Shawn McHugh

Julie Hanna, left, and Keith Velardo sort T-shirts to give to contestants competing in the upcoming Colorado State BBQ Championship at the Wyman Museum. The event, which will include vendors and entertainment for all ages, is sanctioned by the Kansas City BBQ Society and the Rocky Mountain BBQ Association.

Grill games: Upcoming event a tasty treat for all ages in Moffat County

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Julie Hanna holds up an apron Wednesday to be given to each team’s cook competing in the first Colorado State BBQ Championship, which will be hosted at the Wyman Museum east of Craig. The event, sponsored by The Memorial Hospital and Craig Daily Press, is open to the public at noon Friday, and will continue at 11 a.m. Saturday.

If you go

What: Colorado State BBQ Championship

When: Open to the public from noon to 9 p.m. Friday, and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday

Where: Wyman Museum, 94350 U.S. Highway 40

• In addition to world-class barbecue, the grilling competition will include live entertainment and vendors. The Kansas City BBQ Society will offer a class in certified judging at 6 p.m. today at the Wyman Museum.

For information about becoming a judge for the event, visit www.craigbbq.com....

Gathering around the grill is no foreign concept to Craig residents, but a national-level barbecue competition is something entirely different.

Although the size of an upcoming barbecue event in Craig may be rare for the community, it will nonetheless be well done if organizer George Rohrich has anything to say about it.

“This is like nothing we’ve ever had here before,” said Rohrich, who also serves as chief executive officer of The Memorial Hospital in Craig.

More than 30 teams from around the country will compete for a $3,500 grand prize in the Colorado State BBQ Championship, which will take place at the Wyman Museum east of Craig. Two of the three event days are open to the public.

TMH and the Craig Daily Press are sponsoring the event.

Rohrich described the activity of barbecuing as “one of the fastest-growing hobbies in the USA.”

“The great thing about it is that pretty much anyone can do it,” he said. “All you need is the grill, and you’re ready to go.”

Rohrich said he and his committee had been working on getting a Craig barbecue event sanctioned by outlets such as the Kansas City BBQ Society and the Rocky Mountain BBQ Association since the beginning of the year.

Once they were recognized by the organizations and began promoting it, they started receiving entries from barbecue teams as early as April.

“We’ve had a great response in generating interest in this,” he said. “It’s very much more than what I expected.”

Mixed into the roster of 35 competitors from Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, Kansas, Texas and Florida, among other locations, will be several teams from Northwest Colorado, hailing from Craig, Steamboat Springs, Hayden and Meeker.

Webber’s Old West BBQ, headed by Alan and Denette Webber, will be representing Craig in the competition.

The couple has been judging competitions since 2005, which led to their involvement as participants about a year later.

Alan built a specialized cooker for competition, as well as for grilling at events like weddings and graduations for friends and family.

“We don’t do it for money,” he said.

His own family is part of the competition, too, with his sister, Donna, and brother, Brian, making up the rest of the team.

Alan said he has been interested in grilling since seeing his father work the grill when he was a child.

“I think that’s where I got my history from,” he said “That’s why it’s such a family affair.”

The family in question will be busy behind the flames, cooking 50 chicken thighs, nine slabs of ribs, three pulled pork shoulders and three briskets.

And, that’s just for tonight’s judging certification class.

“The first thing they told us when we were taking the judging classes was, ‘Hope you’re all hungry,” Alan said.

Rohrich said competitors will be cooking for points, which will further determine their placing at future barbecue events around the country.

“It’s a lot like NASCAR,” he said.

Webber said he was unsure how he would do in the competition, but he hopes to place in the top 10, making him one of those taking home cash prizes.

The closest he has come to placing in the top spots was receiving 11th place for his chicken at a competition in Grand Junction.

“I just hope to hear my name called,” he said. “There’s a lot of big names coming.”

Those attending the barbecue event, which has no gate charge, can watch competitors as they hone their craft in cooking chicken, pork, ribs and brisket to perfection, as judged by taste, tenderness and appearance.

Certain competitors will also sell food, although the Webbers will not.

“It’s just too much work,” Alan said. “We might do it some time, though.”

Visitors will also be able to circulate around the 20 vendors setting up shop, and listen to numerous live musical acts, including Tony Rosario and the Poor Boys, Four to Play, Little Laura and the Nude Blues Band, and Leaner, Lunker and Friends.

“It’s a great event for family and all ages,” Rohrich said. “We’re hoping for thousands and thousands of people.”

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