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'You can’t beat Kansas City': Foodies attend inaugural Kansas City Barbecue Festival

Festival held at Arrowhead Stadium
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Posted at 4:28 PM, Jul 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-12 12:27:00-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo — The inaugural Kansas City Barbecue Festival drew thousands of guests to GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium in partnership with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Local barbecue joints, as well as 12 of the best pitmasters from around the country, brought their “A game” to impress the audience.

“I love it all man. I can hit Jack Stack. I can hit Gates; you gotta love Gates. ‘Hi may I help you?’ You gotta love Gates, and then Arthur Bryant’s. I’ll take it all,” visitor Bill Irwin said. “It was fantastic, all these guys putting out the effort to do this and some of that meat just melted in your mouth.”

From live music and rib eating contests to cooking demonstrations from pitmasters, there was something for everyone to enjoy. The event also drew in visitors and vendors from out of town.

“We’re actually from Midland, Texas, and we’re on our way to the Mall of America,” one visitor said. “We stayed overnight. We’re going to tour the stadium today, and this happened to be here, so we decided to join in.”

And among the crowd of businesses, Eric Lenderman and his crew from Lockhart, Texas, came to show off their way of doing barbecue.

“Well, it’s not a competition, but you always wanna outdo everybody else if you can a little bit," Lenderman said. "You bring your A game to these events that's for sure.”

Lenderman said he was happy to serve his patrons in person again after many festivals were canceled due to COVID-19. This was a concern the staff made sure to address.

“We had to keep COVID in mind and we had to push back this event from the original date, which would’ve been early in May,” Marc Medolia, an event producer said. “We wanted to make sure that people had the opportunity, if they wanted, to go get vaccinated.”

Tables were safely distanced from each other, and hand washing stations were scattered throughout the venue. Masks were also encouraged for people who aren't vaccinated.

“That was a blessing from the Lord that they put that vaccine together and it's there to get it if you want it,” Irwin said.

With yesterday’s storm behind us and blue skies above, Mendolia hopes people will enjoy the fresh air and try the best of what Kansas City has to offer.

“There's only one profession in America when you can be wrong half the time and keep your job, and it’s your weatherman!” Mendolia said.