Hearne: American Royal BBQ Needs Reality Check

WS-BBQ-Banner-AdIt’s complicated…

That’s one way to look at KC’s vaunted American Royal World Series of Barbecue, an institution that appears headed for endangered species status.

Along with of course, the American Royal horse and livestock show which seems to draw more horse flies these days than paying customers. Sad though it is, these days nobody really seems to much care about it.

Not much more than a year ago, big shot corporate supporters of the dying, annual livestock and horse shindig tried to muscle Kansas City officials into tearing down Kemper Arena  and erecting a smaller but still wildly expensive replacement. To be paid for mostly by taxpayers, naturally.

Well, for the time being anyway that ship seems to have sailed.

Fortunately the barbecue contest still matters, but for how long?

The unfortunate part of it being that rival, forward thinking city Memphis has turned its rival World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest into a world class event via a killer riverside location right off its bustling blues-themed entertainment district and pairing it with a music fest that rivals some of the nation’s best.

This year for example, Memphis hosted Neil Young, Paul Simon,  Beck, Weezer, John Mayall, Lucinda Williams, Gin Blossoms, Barenaked Ladies, Panic at the Disco and dozens more.

And so who’s playing at this year’s BBQ World Series at the Kansas Speedway?

Beats me.

Nobody as of yet, based on a careful reading of the American Royal website.

img9907*750xx5472-3078-0-285Maybe they’ll sign another all-girl Kiss tribute band to headline. Last year, courtesy of working with the Chiefs, the fest at least landed Big & Rich – obviously a far cry from Memphis – but better than nothing.

Speaking of the Kansas Speedway spiriting the barbecue contest across State Line…

KC’s bbq fest is still recuperating from leaving its longtime home in the West Bottoms and moving last year to the sterile confines of the Truman Sports Complex parking lot.

The latest?

A lame Kansas City Star “poll” in which 375 respondents weighed in on the folly of the barbecue fest abandoning its longtime home, first for Arrowhead and now KCK.

The results:

All in favor of Kansas Speedway for the fest’s new home – the place where the music festival known as Kanrocksas took a bullet a few years back: 

Only 28 percent strongly agreed the Speedway was the best choice.

But 73 percent of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that the BBQ fest needs to head back to its former stockyards home.

And 50 percent of respondents strongly disagreed with its move across State Line to Kansas.

The bottom line:

Somebody needs to rescue what’s left of the barbecue contest, completely rethink it – apart from its connection to a dying horse and livestock show and give it a Memphis style refreshening…

Before it’s too late!

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13 Responses to Hearne: American Royal BBQ Needs Reality Check

  1. Jack Springer says:

    kansas won’t educate their children but will spend the money to steal an institution from their neighboring state.

    The sooner kansas goes bankrupt .. the better.

    • Frank says:

      The bbq contest is being run by the state of Kansas? Where is everyone getting their info. Glaze commented that the FBI and other fed agencies need to stop with the DUI stops.

      • Harley the One (there is only one "The Greatest"!) says:

        Now you and everyone on here understand why I have to
        correct all these idiots!
        They can’t get anything right.
        Glaza thinks the FBI does dui checkpoints.
        Southernman thinks Reagan is still alive andwas the best
        president in history!
        chuck still wears his Nazi uniform thinking it’s time to
        rekindle adolphs policies.
        And kerowackjob thinks we’re still living in the 60’s (1960’s).
        Now you know why I have to correct these guys in the
        early stages of senior moments that the world has changed
        and they are constantly putting out false information.
        P.S. nice article hearne. It’s good someone is keeping this
        issue alive. We will never equal the Memphis event but
        the Royal bar b q still ranks high on the national list.

        • admin says:

          The sad thing is KC WAS the premier BBQ event, oldest, etc….

          Unfortunately, the American Royal dropped the ball.

          Former AR head Goerge Guastello had the right idea by booking a slate of top tier acts early on. However instead of growing the event, they went the opposite direction after Guastello bolted for Union Station.

          The rest is history (unfortunately)

      • Thats a Fact Jack says:

        FBI and other fed agencies need to stop Glazer from impersonating a writer.

      • admin says:

        Kansas ain’t running the BBQ, it’s still the American Royal, Frank

    • admin says:

      Not sure they “stole” it, Jack…

      I think the Truman Sports Complex didn’t have the dates available and they grabbed the Speedway out of need

  2. Nick says:

    There are some lazy KCBS judges who still attend the Royal, but for the most part anyone worth their smoke has decamped for Lynchburg; the local contest has been so disorganized the last few years it’s become pitiful.

    Memphis is fun, but the Invitational is where the top teams show up.

    See ya in October….

  3. Guy Who Says What Others Think says:

    Yet another example of Kansas City being passed by.

    • miket says:

      too busy chasing streetcars. too cheap by way of paying cordish or pick your crook. too concerned having the right hotel. too damn busy messing with an airport. the royal? bbq? JAZZ? why, those things are passé, no one cares. we need streetcars, light rail, convention hotels!, conventions!!, smart city fast fiber filiaments flung far and wide! too busy fighting with KANSAS. they gots no heritage except John Brown and KU!! we have heritage!! whats that you say mrs robinson? joltin’ joe has left and gone away? hey hey hey…

  4. admin says:

    The bottom line on this event is, the American Royal looks to have thrown its arms up in the air and punted.

    The guys with the money (at Cerner) were into the horse shows and tried to use the BBQ to force KCMO into building them a new venue.

    When that bluff fell thru and Kemper was more-or-less handed over to the Foutch Brothers, the BBQ fest was basically orphaned

  5. Snappietom says:

    The Memphis in May BBQ event by the banks of the Mississippi with all the musical trappings of nearby Beale Street etc.. makes for a great weekend. The American Royal screwed up when it started thinking small and Hearne is correct about the guys at Cerner they really didn’t care about the BBQ event, just the little pony show. I think the American Royal needs some leadership and direction.

  6. Rainbow Man says:

    If you are in a different spot 3 years in a row after being in one spot for decades… uh… I call that a death spiral.

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