Another year, another snoozer American Royal…
When it comes to over-the-hill events and washed up personalities, the old ways die hard here in the Cowtown. Case in point, Kansas City’s once vaunted, annual livestock, rodeo, horse show, society ball and barbecue contest, the American Royal.
Since 1899 when the livestock event was first conceived, to 1980 when its first barbecue contest achieved liftoff, the eight week long event has passed for what amounts to KC’s fall pageant.
However changing times and tastes – combined with the loss in 1999 of its core participating attendee group the Future Farmers of America – have rendered the event all but toothless.
With, arguably anyway, the exception of the American Royal World Series of Barbecue.
Unfortunately, owing to a dearth of quality live entertainment and a geographic move from the event’s historic home in the West Bottoms to the soulless Kansas Speedway in KCK, this year’s BBQ blowout could well be a bust.
For locals, anyway.
That’s because a scheduling conflict at the speedway necessitated it migrating from the cool climes of October to a sweltering summer Labor Day weekend.
“We moved it this year to Labor Day because of other events at the Speedway,” an American Royal spokesman explains, adding that in future years the plan is for the event to return to October.
As for the “incredible live music” the American Royal’s website promises for this year’s BBQ, “We have not picked anybody yet,” the spokesman says. “But more than likely it’s going to be somebody local and more than likely different (musical) genres.”
Translation: Forget about the heavy hitter mainstream headliners of American Royals past.
Think local bar bands.
And while you’re at it, forget about anything approaching the calibre of talent that Memphis in May organizers bookended around its competing World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest last month.
Acts that ranged from Kings of Leon, Snoop Dogg, Ziggy Marley and Death Cab for Cutie to Ben Harper, MGMT, Jill Scott and Sturgill Simpson.
The bottom line:
In addition to the Royal missing out on the more than 60,000 attendees that attended last fall’s FFA fandango in Indy, having zero name brand entertainers and forcing locals to have to drag out to the wilds of KCK in temps more likely to be in the mid to upper 90s than the low to mid 70s in October, the show will go on for this year’s Royal.
Now a little something for you trivia buffs: Can you believe that at one point the American Royal was so dope that the owner of KC’s Major League Baseball franchise named the local team after it? Hence the “World Series” of BBQ nomenclature.
Unfortunately, time flies whether you’re having fun or not…