By PAVAN VANGIPURAM
The barbecue judging at the Roots ‘N’ Blues ‘N’ BBQ Festival has commenced.
In the judges’ tent, the judges were amiably chatting before the first competitors submitted their barbecue. Fifty judges inspected the food of fifty candidates, each cooking four styles: chicken, pork ribs, pulled pork and brisket.
Floyd Durk will be judging table 8. Like all the judges, he is certified by the Kansas City Barbecue Society. The society has a strict protocol to avoid favoritism and conflicts of interests.
“If I eat a contestant’s chicken, I won’t try his ribs, pulled pork or brisket,” Floyd said.
His fellow judge, Steve Evans, said judges can only look for “good taste, texture, and most of all presentation.” Presentation, Evans said, is an often neglected part of great barbecue.
Long-time barbecuer, T.J. Eastin brought three generations of his family to the festival. Next to his truck looms a huge smoker Eastin built himself.
“There ain’t no secret,” Eastin said about his barbecue secrets. “No secrets, just dry rub, sauce, a little salt and pepper, then cook it.”
Eastin, a former union electrician, said he worked “off and on for a couple weeks” on his smoker.
“It’s got two racks, each two feet by six inches,” he said
The Eastins have been competing in barbecue competitions for nine years.
“I’d consider myself a good ole boy,” Eastin said.