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updated: 6/6/2012 2:57 PM

Barbecue contest adds flavor to RiverFest

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  • New this year at Pride of the Fox RiverFest is Firin' Up the Fox, a barbecue cook-off. Teams will compete for bragging rights as to who has the best chicken, ribs, pork or brisket -- and for cash prizes.

    New this year at Pride of the Fox RiverFest is Firin' Up the Fox, a barbecue cook-off. Teams will compete for bragging rights as to who has the best chicken, ribs, pork or brisket -- and for cash prizes.
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By Hailey Czarnecki

A new cook-off event, Firin' Up the Fox, could be a festival all its own. It is a barbecue contest at Pride of the Fox RiverFest, presented by the Kansas City Barbecue Society.

Five Kane County teams will battle against each other and more Illinois champion-worthy teams.

"The art of the contest is to be able to cook contest-quality barbecue to be ready at a specific time," barbecue coordinator Kevin Call said. There will be three main contests, one for kids, one for amateurs and one big one for serious barbecuers.

Call brought this idea to Julie Farris, fest coordinator, after the fest last year. She agreed, and named Call the barbecue coordinator because of his outstanding barbecuing skills.

The big shot competition is a KCBS sanctioned barbecue cook-off. Teams can enter into four categories: chicken, ribs, pork or brisket. Two more optional categories will allow for more winners. The side dish contest is for teams to create anything outside the four meats to be served with their finished product. The People's Choice contest allows for anyone at the fest to triy pulled pork submissions and vote for their favorites.

Matthew Burton and his brother Marty, both of St. Charles, will be representing the town at the contest. Matthew said they are St. Charles High School alumni and also graduated from The Culinary Institute of America. They own the restaurant MBurs, cleverly named after their names.

"We just bought a $10,000 smoker this year and hope to do well at Pride of the Fox -- an event we have been going to literally all our lives," Matthew said.

Trained and certified judges will evaluate the submissions starting at noon Saturday at the Plaza Green venue. Each meat will be scored based on appearance, tenderness and taste. Appearance counts as 1/7th, tenderness as 2/7th and taste as 4/7th of the overall score. Prize money, equaling $3,900, will be given to the top five scores in each category and the top two overall scores.

This fest calls for two more awards to be handed out. The highest score of the five Kane County teams will win the Best Barbecue in Kane County award. And because many of the teams are competing for the first time, there will be a Rookie award given to the highest score.

The amateurs contest is "looking to target the backyard enthusiast," Call said. Contestants will grill up chicken or ribs and be judged on the same categories as the KCBS. Judges will be volunteers from the public, the trained judges and the contestants from Saturday's competition. $600 in prize money will be given out to the top five places in each category.

The Kid's Q contest gives kids between the ages of 5 to 10 and 11 to 15 the chance to grill their own concoctions. Parents are allowed to help with the fire and knives only, the kids do the rest, Call said. Grills and pork steaks will be provided and spots are still available for kids to sign up.

The KCBS competition will be Saturday and the other two on Sunday. The submissions will start to be turned in at noon both days followed by an awards ceremony 5:30 p.m. Saturday and 4:30 p.m. Sunday at the plaza green venue. The People's Choice contest will start at 11:30 p.m. Saturday and continue until 2 p.m., or until everything is eaten. Volunteers are always needed, Call said and anyone interested can email

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