The American Royal 2015

The American Royal is a non-profit organization dedicated to the education of youth in the Kansas City area. Since 1899 the American Royal has been using a variety of events to raise funds to support their goals. One of the events they organize is the World Series of Barbecue, which consists of both an invitational contest and an open contest. To qualify for the invitational, a team must win a sanctioned contest between July 1st and June 30th for the contest in October. As the name implies, the open contest is open to any barbecue team that wishes to enter. This year there were 187 teams in the invitational and 607 teams in the open.

The big change for 2015 was the location of the contests. For the past 36 years it has been in the West Bottoms area near the old Stockyards. This year the event was moved to Arrowhead Stadium. This change caused a certain amount of angst among both the organizers and the teams. For the organizers, there were logistics to work out but with the help and encouragement from the Chiefs organization I think it went off pretty well. From the teams standpoint, it was mostly just the break from tradition and fear of the unknown. Sure, there were a few glitches here and there but we’re glad they moved. There was more room, and it seemed like there was more extra activities, yet it retained the feel of the greatest barbecue contest on earth.

I don’t know who deserves credit for this photo, but it really shows the layout. In the center is Arrowhead Stadium with the home of the Royals, Kaufman Stadium, to the left.  All the ‘white’ campers and tents outside both end zones are the competitors, the invitational being closest to you and the open contestants on the far side. Between the two stadiums was the stage, food vendors, displays, and other activities. Click on the picture for an exploded view and you’ll see the white arrow pointing at our camper.

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We got in late Wednesday evening and were one of the early arrivals, so we had no trouble at all getting into our spot. During the day Thursday they moved in a semi-trailer from Reser’s Fine Foods and at that time we had no neighbors on that side so this was our view out our kitchen window:

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Of course by Friday there was a team in between, but it was still a short walk to their trailer, as that afternoon they provided goodies to the teams. We were able to pick up several items from their product line. By now we’ve tried them and can say they are very good. If you are looking for an easy side dish, look for the Reser’s line at your favorite grocery store.

Thursday afternoon we made the short drive over to Q39 where we met my sister for an early dinner. Q39 is owned by a former competitor, and a very good one, Rob Magee. The food is excellent and highly recommended. When a BBQ competitor can recommend a BBQ restaurant you know it’s good! And since we beat the dinner rush, we were able to visit with Rob for a short while. Rob welcomed us into the barbecue family at our very first contest and we will never forget that.

We had ordered a new banner that did make it in time for the Royal and we had it on display along with our site number.

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These are just a couple of pictures that show our location as it related to Arrowhead;

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Friday evening my sister Debbie, her son Jared, his wife Natalie and their son Teddy came out for supper and to visit. Teddy had a great time playing with all the coolers and buckets

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It was good to visit with them, but soon it was time to get serious and cook for the invitational. We had a power glitch overnight, but we caught it in time to recover and finished everything on time. After 6 trips from our site to the nearest corner of the stadium, up one rotation of the spiral to the second floor, down the hall to the turn in location and back I was TIRED! According to an app on my phone, I walked a total of 7.73 miles on Saturday. Later that afternoon it was time for awards which were held inside the stadium

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My sisters Debbie and Donna made it just before the awards started. After the Kid’s Q awards in which our friend Cole Backerman took 3rd in his age group, it was time for the KCBS awards. First up was the chicken category and Naughty Nurses BBQ was called for 14th out of the 187 teams! We got to go down on the field to accept our ribbon.

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It was our only call, but what a thrill! For the other categories we finished 157th in ribs (they weren’t our best) 24th in pork and 63rd in brisket for an overall finish of 45th. We are very proud to have finished in the top one-fourth of the best teams in the world.

Saturday night we took in some of the activities; they had beer pong although I’m pretty sure they weren’t drinking out of these “cups”

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The also had  a Jenga game that was a little bit oversize as well that we set up and played until it fell

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The main attraction for the evening was a concert by recording artists Big & Rich

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who put on a very high energy show.

Both Friday and Saturday were closed by an impressive fireworks display

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On Sunday we turned in for the open contest in which we didn’t fair nearly as well as we did in the invitational but that’s the way it goes sometimes.

We got out in reasonably good time and made it home around 11pm Sunday, very tired but still excited from the contest. Here it is almost 10 days later and our chicken ribbon

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is still hanging off the drapes in our living room where we can admire it.

We enjoyed the new location and have put ourselves under pressure to win a qualifying contest so we can get back into the invitational next year.

We have one more contest this year at Parsons Ks and it’s one of our favorites!

The only tip I can give today is to encourage you to attend The American Royal World Series of Barbecue next year, I promise you won’t be disappointed whether you go as a competitor or a spectator.