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American Royal cancels 2020 World Series of Barbecue due to COVID-19

Posted at 2:33 PM, Aug 04, 2020

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The American Royal announced Tuesday that the World Series of Barbecue is canceled for 2020.

The event was originally scheduled for Sept. 17-20 at Kansas Speedway.

Organizers made the decision to cancel due to COVID-19 concerns.

"We made the difficult and disappointing decision to cancel the 2020 American Royal World Series of Barbecue," Glen Alan Phillips, President and CEO of the American Royal, said Tuesday in an interview with 41 Action News. "With what's going on with COVID-19 and safety concerns and financial considerations, we felt like it was in the best interests of the organization and the community as a whole."

Phillips said no one variable led organizations to the decision, but a combination of keeping participants and the public safe, trying to find a way for the event to make sense financially and not knowing what lies ahead with the pandemic.

"No one knows for sure where we'll be in the middle of September regarding this pandemic," Phillips said.

All registered teams will be refunded and given the same space for 2021.

Phillips said the cancellation is the first he can remember of the event, which celebrated its 40th anniversary last year.

“It’s the first year that I can recall the Barbecue has been canceled," Phillips said. "Last year we celebrated our 40th anniversary of the barbecue and we’re proud of this event and we’re proud to be part of Kansas City and the exposure it brings to the Kansas City community.

The 2021 event is tentatively scheduled for Sept. 16-19.

While the 2020 World Series of Barbecue is canceled, other events surrounding the American Royal are slated to continue.

"Our equine show and our livestock show are scheduled to go on as planned," Phillips said. "Those are events that we do not do a large number of public ticket sales so it’s mainly the participants. So we’ll need to restrict that to only participants this coming year due to the situation with COVID and insuring again that we can maintain safety for all of our participants."

More information is available on American Royal's website.