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Smoke on the Square kicks competition up a notch

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Chris Elrod of Butt Rubbers BBQ trims fat from a pork loin as he prepares for The 2012 Smoke on the Square.
Chris Elrod of Butt Rubbers BBQ trims fat from a pork loin as he prepares for The 2012 Smoke on the Square. FILE PHOTO

During last year’s Smoke on the Square competition, the aroma of cooking meat drew hundreds of people to downtown Franklin.

They were presented with a cruel reality. Thirty championship barbecuers were smoking pork butt, brisket and ribs with their own special blend of spices and sauces.

But many ran out of samples to let the public try themselves.

“We had an enormous amount of people attend last year. The barbecue teams that we had that vended were not prepared for that. That was a problem,” said Megan Hart, executive director of Discover Downtown Franklin.

Smoke on the Square

When: June 28 and 29

Where: Downtown Franklin

Schedule of Events:

June 28

11 a.m. to 10 p.m.: Food Vendors

2 and 7:30 p.m.: “Charlotte’s Web,” Historic Artcraft Theatre, 57 N. Main St.

5 to 9 p.m.: Kids area

5:30 p.m.: Electric Impulse Cloggers

7 to 10 p.m.: Blue River Band

June 29

11 a.m. to 9 p.m.: Food vendors

11 a.m. to 4 p.m.: Local entertainment

4 p.m.: Ben Shively

1 p.m.: People’s Choice competition voting, until samples are sold out

2 and 7:30 p.m.: “Charlotte’s Web,” Historic Artcraft Theatre

5 p.m.: Kansas City Barbecue Society awards ceremony

6 to 9 p.m.: The Snakehandlers

Amateur competitions

Meat category:

Competitors can cook any meat on the grill, such as chicken, beef, pork, fish or lamb.

Competitors can cookout overnight or bring dish on day of event. On-site spaces will be provided.

Dessert must be brought to the entrance of the Franklin City Hall between 2 and 2:10 p.m. on June 29

Cost of entry: $40

Prizes: $250 and trophy for first prize, $50 for honorable mention

Dessert category:

Competitors can enter any type of dessert.

Entry must have dish name and ingredients listed for judges’ use.

Dessert must be brought to the entrance of the Franklin City Hall between 2:30 and 2:40 p.m. on June 29

Cost of entry: $20

Prizes: $200 and trophy for first prize, $50 for honorable mention

To download entry forms or for more information: discoverdowntownfranklin.com

Smoke on the Square returns this year, with more food vendors, more taste-testing options and more chances for the public to get involved. Organizers have tweaked the barbecue competition to make it more appealing, catering to local foodies as well as those coming from around the Midwest to gorge.

“It draws a lot of people from all over the state, and other states as well. We’re bringing in visitors, not just residents coming spending their money. It’s money from outside the county,” Hart said. “We have to keep their stomachs full.”

Smoke on the Square was founded in 2011 to help generate attention for downtown Franklin. Primarily, the event is a chance for barbecue teams from around the country to compete against one another. The event is sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbecue Society, a national event organizer, and teams can earn points for its barbecue season standings.

Teams will pull smokers and grills into Franklin’s courthouse square, starting their fires on June 28 and cooking all the way through until June 29.

But expecting them to provide food for hungry crowds isn’t feasible, Hart said. Instead, additional food vendors have been added to provide both tasty ribs, pulled pork, brisket, hot dogs and hamburgers.

“We have strong barbecue vendors this year, and other non-barbecue if you want that. It’s a barbecue event, so you’re coming mostly to eat,” Hart said. “Having a large amount from food vendors will help people come and help them come next year.”

For those who really want to be able to try meat from the competitors, people can pay $5 starting at 1 p.m. June 29 to take part in the “People’s Choice” competition. The cost entitles them to a blind taste-test on June 29 of food from seven of the barbecue teams taking part.

They can vote for their favorite, with the winner being announced at the end of the event.

But Smoke on the Square isn’t just for the professional barbecuers. Backyard gourmets can enter their own creations in two categories. Judges will determine the best meat, such as chicken, beef, pork, fish or lamb, done on a grill.

They can also enter a dessert.

Top prize in the meat category is $250, with a $50 honorable mention. Desserts offer a first prize of $200 with a $50 honorable mention.

While the cooking and eating is the focus of Smoke on the Square, a variety of other activities have been planned to keep people busy. Live entertainment by the Electric Impulse Cloggers, Blue River Band and the Snakehandlers will allow people to dance off some of the calories they consume.

A free classic car cruise-in will be conducted on June 28, and the Historic Artcraft Theatre will be showing “Charlotte’s Web” throughout the weekend. Char-Broil, a national grill producer, will have a massive display featuring games, food demonstrations, a prize wheel and other activities.

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