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Taj Mahal performs Saturday at the Denver Blues & Bones Festival.
Taj Mahal performs Saturday at the Denver Blues & Bones Festival.

Grill Thrill

Backyard barbecuers and serious sauce professionals will go grill-to-grill at the sixth annual Denver Blues & Bones festival this weekend.

The feast, moved from the Golden Triangle to the south lawn of Invesco Field at Mile High, will feature more than seventy entrants participating in two competitions: the Backyard BBQ Challenge on Saturday and the Mile High BBQ Championship on Sunday. Categories include best chicken, pork ribs, brisket -- and even "best showmanship."

The apron-splattering, finger-licking fair kicks off at 9 p.m. on Friday and continues through Sunday afternoon. It also features blues music provided by War and Shemekia Copeland on Friday; Taj Mahal, Roy Rogers and the Delta Rhythm Kings on Saturday; and the Hazel Miller Band, Dr. John and Sonny Landreth on Sunday.

Don't sweat the credentials of the 'cue judges: This year they'll be supplied by the Kansas City Barbecue Society, which has endorsed the event. Those attending should come hungry, because many competitors will also be selling their creations. And make no mistake: This is serious sizzlin'. Most contestants bring their own grills; according to the rules, they may use only charcoal or wood.

"Serious barbecuers don't use propane," says Katrina Wright of Performance International, the event's sponsor.

In fact, some folks relish the idea of breaking a sweat.

"Man, it sure does get hot back there," says Randy Sorenson, last year's grand champion, who operates four Old West BBQ covered wagons. "But it's so great to see people's expressions when they take a bite of our steak on a stick."

So what is Sorenson's secret ingredient? He swears it's just good ol'-fashioned love. "I just get a kick out of being outdoors and creating something unique and different," he says. "But it's also nice to win."


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