WINNIPEG – The Winnipeg BBQ and Blues Festival kicked off Saturday with bands and BBQ pit masters bringing the heat.
“We have brisket, two pulled pork shoulders, nine pound shoulders, five racks of ribs and about 24 pieces of chicken,” said Ryan Fraser of Hawg Wash BBQ.
All that meat needs some tender loving care and babysitting.
“Tonight’s the night we have to stay and watch everything — too much money on the line,” said Fraser.
Pit masters will spend the weekend camped out at Shaw Park in hopes of taking home some of the $10,000 worth of prizes up for grabs.
“We’d like to get grand champion, that would be best, but we’ve got a lot of tough competition,” said Fraser.
Competition like last year’s grand champion, Burnside BBQ.
“It’s going to be tough, like it is every year … but everyone’s got their eye on me,” said Darrel Burkowsky of Burnside BBQ.
The festival is in its third year and is hosting 30 pit master teams.
Some of those teams are feeling the burn of rising meat prices.
“That’s been huge, a big impact. In the States you see that a lot of teams are not competing with the price of gas, higher entrance fees and the price of meat,” said Shymko.
But that isn’t stopping others.
“The love of barbecue, it’s all about the barbecue, that’s all me and Chris do,” said Fraser.
And that has visitors lining up to get in.
“Two-day pass, you betcha. Go for it all … all weekend fun,” said park visitor Keith Tosczak.
Organizers expect 3,000 to 5,000 people will go through Shaw Park on Saturday and Sunday.