Get smokin’!

CCSFEST to draw barbecue enthusiasts from across the midwest during annual community festival

Rich Jones at last year’s CCSFEST.

Calvary Christian School will soon attract barbecue experts from across the midwest, from competition teams with a popup canopy and backyard charcoal smokers to teams with a 50-foot trailer carrying an large, professional smoker.

Those who enjoy barbecue can come to the annual CCSFEST on April 7, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., to watch the pros work during a Kansas City Barbeque Society Competition and even purchase some barbecue while supporting the school.

“One of the things that’s fabulous about this event is the immense involvement of the Calvary Christian School community, the army of volunteers who make the entire weekend work well for them,” said Dave Druetzler, competition rep for KCBS. “It is a tremendous outpouring of their hospitality. We don’t often see that happen at all contests.”

CCSFEST includes more than a dozen food trucks and Barbecue vendors, 50 to 75 artisan and craft booths, a dozen game tents for kids and large bounce house area, live gospel music and more. The event will take place rain or shine, moving indoors in the case of poor weather. While admission and parking is free, there is a valet option for a small fee. Parking is available at Dollar General, behind Burger King, Bedder Way Beds, Primo and Indiana Bible College with shuttles for transport throughout the event. Kids can purchase a wrist band to play the games or enter the bounce houses.

Proceeds go to CCS, helping it purchase equipment and supplies needed to ramp up its Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) program. CCSFEST has raised $46,000 for the school in the past three years, with last year’s event raising $21,000 of those funds.

While the event is a community festival with activities for any guest, the biggest draw is its Barbecue competition. KCBS is a nonprofit with more than 20,000 barbecue and grilling enthusiast members worldwide, sanctioning more than 500 barbecue competitions. Judges must be certified to meet KCBS standards.

“Judging is not necessarily scoring to what you like but scoring to a specific standard set by Kansas City Barbeque Society,” Druetzler said. “For example ,so many people love fall-off-the-bone barbecue ribs. In the Kansas City Barbeque Society, that would often times be considered overcooked because it would be too tender. The expectation is that you can bite into the rib and have it easily come off the bone but not fall off the bone.”

The CCSFEST competition is capped at 50 teams, being judged on chicken, pork ribs, pork shoulder, and brisket. Awards, with cash prizes and trophies, are presented about 3 p.m.

“People will find that if they approach competition cooks, they find they’ll be pretty down-to-earth people who talk about what they do and how they do it,” Dreutzler said. “It gives folks exposure as to what competition barbecue is all about. They get to see that it’s very accessible. You don’t have to have the $10,000 piece of equipment. You can go out there with what you cook with in your backyard. It also helps identify that there is a difference between barbecuing and grilling. To some people, barbecue is the flavor of a potato chip or sauce. But to these people, it’s a cooking method, slow. Barbecue is something very specific. They put together some flavor profiles that are truly amazing. It’s an incredible taste experience.”