Giving (Hog)back: Colorado BBQ Challenge filled with fun, good will
IF YOU GO
What: 26th annual Colorado BBQ Challenge
Where: Main Street Frisco from Madison Avenue to Sixth Avenue
When: Friday, June 14, to Saturday, June 15
Cost: Free to attend. Food is purchased with Hogbacks, which cost $1 each. Items average about five to 12 Hogbacks. Hogbacks will be accepted at participating shops and restaurants through Monday, June 17. Visit FriscoBBQ.com to purchase in advance and for more information.
The state’s longest running barbecue competition has returned to Frisco this Father’s Day weekend. Roughly 12,000 attendees, 66 competitors and 40 vendors will revel in live music, pig races, demos, the Bacon Burner 6K and, of course, barbecue.
Shuttle parking will be available at Summit Middle School at 158 School Road, Frisco. The free shuttles run from 10:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. today and 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Saturday. Carpooling and taking the shuttle is encouraged as anyone with three or more people in their car will receive five Hogbacks, the currency for the 26th annual Colorado BBQ Challenge, per car. Shuttle bus drop-off/pick-up locations are located on Granite Street at First Avenue and Fifth Avenue.
Because of the cooking and commotion, furry friends are not welcome at the festival. There will be no pets allowed on the street, sidewalks or parks in the event site. Additionally, no one with pets in their car will be allowed to park in the shuttle parking lot.
As a Kansas City Barbeque Society sanctioned competition, The Colorado BBQ Challenge attracts an elite group of pitmasters each year from Colorado, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas and beyond. Winning the Colorado BBQ Challenge provides eligibility to compete in the American Royal, essentially the World Series of barbecue.
Competition categories include pork, ribs, chicken, brisket, barbecue sauce, side dish, salsa and desert. The awards ceremony will be held at 4 p.m. on Saturday at the Frisco Historic Park at the corner of Second Avenue and Main Street.
The public can exchange Hogbacks for some of that grub from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. today and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday. If someone wishes to learn more about the world of barbecue, they can check out today’s chef demos with Blane Hunter for Snake River Farms at 2:30 p.m. and Lynx Grills at 4 p.m. at the historic park.
On Saturday the park will be the destination to catch the annual firefighter cook-off. Red, White & Blue Fire Protection District and Summit Fire & EMS will go head to head to benefit a nonprofit at 11 a.m. Limited tastes will be available for free.
Once all is said and done, any remaining Hogbacks can be spent at participating restaurants on Saturday from 6 to 8 p.m. for a happy hour event or through Monday.
Yet the unique entertainment comes from the bacon-focused activities. Starting at noon today and occurring every two hours are pig races featuring All-Alaskan Racing Pigs on Fourth Avenue. The running of the piglets continues on Saturday at 10 a.m.
Speaking of pork, at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday walkers and runners can enjoy the Bacon Burner 6K at the Frisco Bay Marina. Not only will it help participants feel like they earned their barbecue, but aide stations come equipped with bacon.
Frisco’s largest annual event wouldn’t be possible without the hundreds of volunteers — over 400 between nonprofit partners and community coordinators. Two of those are Jim and Roxane Fuxa of Omaha, Nebraska. Now living in Colorado Springs, the retired teachers were Frisco residents since 1987 and lived there full-time between 2004 and 2013. Civic duty was and is in their blood as Jim served on the Frisco Planning Commission for seven years and the couple returns to the mountain town each summer to give back.
“Volunteerism makes you feel like you’re part of the community and when you’re part of a community you’re more likely to volunteer,” Roxane said. Along with the Colorado BBQ Challenge, they participate in the Senior Rummage Sale and in past years could be seen assisting with the Frisco Town Cleanup, Run the Rockies and Music on Main Street.
Their main duty at the festival — one they’ve been doing for more than 20 years — involves cleaning up after the judges and making sure all entries are organized. “That way, if there’s a questions on the competition, like, ‘Did team No. 28 turn in a container for pulled pork?’ they have to go back and see the foam containers,” Jim said.
Though Jim was briefly a judge in the competition for two years, he and his wife have no background in barbecue or the food industry. But simply because he was asked to help out, Jim is a meat inspector for all competitors.
For about four hours on Friday morning, he checks to see if pitmasters are using raw, sealed USDA-approved meat or meat that’s been purchased from a USDA-inspected source, while simultaneously making sure they haven’t gotten a head start in food preparations with seasoning or cooking.
“They can start injecting once we inspect it, but not before we look at it,” he said.
Then on Saturday they help mop up after the vendors enjoy their pancake breakfast and complete other odd jobs such as laying out the toothpicks, soda crackers, pencils and water on the judging tables.
The cooks are serious about their craft and the competition, and according to the Fuxas it shows in the final product.
“We were in Memphis one year and we go to this place that was supposed to be the best,” said Jim. “It doesn’t even hold a candle to what you can eat here, not even close. This is the best barbecue we’ve ever had.”
“It’s more than just the food,” added Roxanne. “The music, the chef demonstrations — there’s so much more to do than just eat.”
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