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Sam’s Club, the official supplier of the Kansas City Barbeque Society (KCBS), will play host to what is being hailed as the largest competition series in the history of competitive barbecue. The unprecedented prize purse is impressive as well: a total of $400,000.
Dubbed the Inaugural Sam's Club National BBQ Tour, the competition series will comprise 20 local qualifying events, five regional events and one national championship in Sam’s Club’s hometown of Bentonville, Ark. The $400,000 will be awarded in 26 barbecue competitions, which are scheduled to take place in Sam’s Club parking lots across the United States.
“This partnership with KCBS gives Sam’s Club a chance to showcase our high-quality selection of fresh meats,” noted Bob Fields, senior fresh merchandise director at Sam’s Club. “It also allows us the opportunity to demonstrate to our members and others how grilling can be an everyday meal solution even if they aren’t part of the growing competitive barbecuing scene.”
The teams compete at local events for the chance to move up to the regional competitions. Qualifying teams from the regionals will then advance to the national event, where one team will be named grand champions and receive their portion of the $400,000 purse. Missouri-based KCBS will provide certified barbecue judges for the competitions.
“Over our 25-year history, we have seen substantial growth in members, events and prize money,” said KCBS executive director Carolyn Wells, executive director, KCBS. “This is due in large part to the ever-growing popularity of our sport. Our strategic alliance with Sam’s Club is another way for us to continue bringing barbecue to the masses.”
The largest barbecue society in the world, with more than 14,000 individual members and 5,000 competitive barbecue teams, KCBS sanctions more than 350 competitions annually.
The national tour will begin in Gilbert, Ariz., on April 8. In addition to the competitions themselves, the events will offer sampling and public demonstrations, in addition to exclusive barbecue tips and demos from professional cooks, among them Troy Black, author of “The Big Book of BBQ.”
“This is a great way for our members to come out and learn how to make competition barbecue in their own backyards,” observed Fields. “Who better to learn from than the professional cooks and teams who have dedicated their lives to perfecting their craft?”
A division of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., warehouse club retailer Sam’s Club has than 47 million members in locations across the United States, as well as in Brazil, China and Mexico.