"Once again, let it be known that Denver's BBQ is atrocious," wrote one commenter last week. It's been an unusually tough year for barbecue in this town, with several of our longtime favorites closing up shop. But barbecue fans can expect big things come January, when the National Western Stock Show will host its first-ever barbecue competition, slated for opening day of the extravaganza's 109th annual edition.
See also: The Ten Best Barbecue Joints in Denver
The National Western BBQ Throwdown, presented by Chevrolet, is a Kansas City Barbeque Society-sanctioned event at which forty teams of the world's elite barbecue contestants -- the majority of them from Colorado, according to the NWSS's Morgan Topolnicki -- will compete in four barbecue categories: chicken, pork, ribs and brisket. First-, second- and third-place prizes will be handed out in each category; a barbecue grand champion will also be crowned, winning automatic admission to the American Royal World Series of Barbecue, held in October 2015.
About half of the fifty judges rating the Throwdown barbecue will be from Colorado; sadly, our state's barbecue/soul-food expert, Adrian Miller, won't be among them. The James Beard Award-winning author has a prior engagement in Chicago on January 10, when the Throwdown will take over a parking lot behind the National Western Events Center.
Attendees will have the chance to purchase "sample" tickets to enjoy BBQ from several of the competitors, Topolnicki says, and local BBQ food-truck vendors, including Big Bubba's BBQ, will also be on hand for those still hankering for a big, messy plate of meat.
But save some space for Pork Chop on a Stick, our essential Stock Show snack, sold by an outdoor vendor conveniently located just beyond the Cowboy Bar, in the basement of the Hall of Education.
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This is just the start of the changes planned for the National Western Stock Show; plans for a proposed new complex will be released tomorrow. Is it too much to ask for a year-round barbecue joint to be part of it? Find out more at nationalwestern.com.