Hearne: American Royal & BBQ Continue Downward Slide

 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.

Even their logo blows the American Royal’s away

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…


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12 Responses to Hearne: American Royal & BBQ Continue Downward Slide

  1. Kyle says:

    Bizarre. The competing October event has to be the NASCAR race they have early in the month, right? NASCAR has already announced that the October 2018 race at the Speedway will be 10/21 so I’m not sure how it’s a conflict in 2017 and not 2018.

  2. Orphan of the Road says:

    BBQ? That’s the stuff they serve in places with no history of barbecue.

    But then few know the difference between barbecue and grilling. They probably use Kobi Beef and Certified Angus. Charlie Bryant spins in his grave like a dreidel.

    I think these things which the ham-and-eggers enjoy are following the three rules ‘Merica lives by now.

    As Otis Criblecoblis wrote in 1941, You can’t cheat and honest man, never give a sucker an even break or wise up a chump.

    McRibs for everyone!!!!!

  3. Orphan of the Road says:

    Don’t bother to moderate the comment I left just a minute or so ago.

    No need to respond if you have to censor me for what I wrote in it.

  4. JayhawkTony says:

    My BBQ team and many other local teams that I’ve talked to are either skipping this year’s American Royal event or have decided that enough is enough and will no longer support the ARBBQ event, which is what we’re doing.

    The ARBBQ, at least for the locals and for teams who just want to compete a few times a year and throw a nice party for their friends, has gotten away from its roots. It caters completely to the “championship” teams, and they nickel-and-dime you at every turn.

    This year’s ARBBQ will likely be the least attended in terms of both teams and those who pay to go out. There is a huge annual BBQ that’s Sam’s Club puts on that same weekend that is a national event, so many of the big names that you usually see at the AR event will be there. And for the locals, there are other events that weekend, such as Irish Fest and Santa-Cali-Gon Days, not to mention, many families take their last mini vacation of the year over Labor Day Weekend. And some of the teams I’ve talked to will head up to Weston or down to Appleton City to compete in smaller events.


  5. Whitten Pell says:

    and in other food related news…..in a famous local restaurateur obit…his family seemed to have forgotten he had two grown sons, both now deceased (one named for him) and a first marriage of around 18 plus years……….

    • admin says:

      What some of us haven’t forgotten was when he dumped his first wife for a girl who went to Sunset Hill and was younger than his kids. One of whom went to Pembroke and I can’t quite remember whether he killed himself or died of a drug overdose.

      Little help?

  6. nice article hearne. The bar b que was a tradition in october….friday night parties..but
    now it competes with residents traveling to the lake and other destinations during the
    labor day weekend.
    Bad decision on their part. Too many other events happening on labor day but it
    will still draw a decent crowd on labor day.
    Who’s making these decisions? What idiot moved it to this date. They could have
    moved it to later in september possibly a few weeks later as long as it did not
    compete with plaza art fair. Seems like some keeps sabotaging the great events
    our town has been famous for.

  7. Rainbow Man says:

    The AR BBQ used to be fun… But the date is weather risky. Moving it to the Legends took all of the character of the event away. The event seems to now be a whole bunch of people showing up to get free crap.

  8. porque says:

    You know this is a hick town when it looses the FFA!

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    No updates to this site in a week. Anyone still maintaining it?

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