by Susan Mikula Campbell
The hot, sweet smell of barbecue will pervade Gateway Harbor in North Tonawanda and Tonawanda this weekend as the Smokin' Eagles International BBQ Festival returns.
This will be fourth year the event will be canalside. It began in Wheatfield six years ago under the direction of Wheatfield barbecue expert and barbecue competitor Roy "Honcho" Gregory.
There's no admission for the event, which will feature about 35 competing barbecue teams, about twice as many as last year, according to Rob Giordano, who co-chairs the festival. Giordano owns the Barbecue Shop Inc. in Lewiston.
The festival this year has become a Kansas City Barbecue Society sanctioned event, he explained, and point totals will count towards the Empire State BBQ Championship.
KCBS, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting and enjoying barbecue, is the world's largest organization of barbecue and grilling enthusiasts with more than 15,000 members worldwide. KCBS sanctions more than 400 barbeque contests coast-to-coast throughout America. Competitors grill up chicken, pork ribs, pork butt and brisket.
The KCBS competition will be Saturday, Aug. 10, and on Sunday, Aug. 11, there will be a New England Barbecue Society grilling contest (beef, sausage, lamb, veggies and fruit), along with the usual Backyard Barbecue (ribs and chicken) contest and Kids-Q.
Visitors to Smokin' Eagles will find top quality barbecue available from vendors, including some of the competitors.
"Rooster will be back in town from Florida's Skin and Bones Barbecue, bringing 'a little south for your mouth,' " said Gregory.
For $5, visitors can participate in People's Choice, sampling five different vendors and choosing their favorite barbecue.
Other vendors will offer everything from corn on the cob to barbecue supplies.
It's all about barbecue, but there's also entertainment. On Friday evening, Aug. 9, Then and Now and Sudden Urge will perform. On Saturday, there will be karaoke with Richard Rice and two bands, including the Bleeding Hearts. Sunday will feature Tru Fate.
Gregory always selects a charity to benefit from Smokin' Eagles. This year, it will be the Variety Club.
Gates open to the public at 4:30 p.m. on Friday and 9 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. For more information, visit www.sebbq.com.