Backyard BBQ supports Bridge Communities

 
 
Posted8/27/2015 1:58 PM
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  • The Glen Ellyn Backyard BBQ returns for its seventh year from noon to 9 p.m. Saturday.

    The Glen Ellyn Backyard BBQ returns for its seventh year from noon to 9 p.m. Saturday. Courtesy of Eric Friedemann

  • Besides a competition for 65 amateur teams of ribbers, the Glen Ellyn Backyard BBQ features lives music. Fruteland Jackson plays on a cigar box guitar during a previous year.

    Besides a competition for 65 amateur teams of ribbers, the Glen Ellyn Backyard BBQ features lives music. Fruteland Jackson plays on a cigar box guitar during a previous year. Courtesy of Eric Friedemann

  • Blues guitarist Chainsaw Dupont on his Gibson Flying V played a previous Glen Ellyn Ellyn Backyard BBQ concert.

    Blues guitarist Chainsaw Dupont on his Gibson Flying V played a previous Glen Ellyn Ellyn Backyard BBQ concert. Courtesy of Eric Friedemann

  • Professional judges from the Kansas City Barbeque Society will score sauces, ribs and grilled food.

    Professional judges from the Kansas City Barbeque Society will score sauces, ribs and grilled food. Courtesy of Eric Friedemann

That old backyard Weber grill isn't invited. And leave the fuddy duddy apron and chef's hat at home.

To look the part at the seventh annual Glen Ellyn Backyard BBQ Saturday, Aug. 29, serious ribbers must have silly gear.

"It's kind of like if you had a party in your backyard and you invited all your friends to it," says Kirk Burger, the volunteer co-chair of the largest amateur contest in Illinois.

These ribbers are the MacGyvers of the grilling world. Early Saturday, long before spectators can sink their teeth into tender and succulent slabs, the competitors will begin setting up at the Glenwood Avenue parking lot in downtown Glen Ellyn. They're the guys with the Hawaiian shirts.

Then, they heat up the smokers, sometimes made out of steel drums or, in one case, an old refrigerator on wheels -- with longhorns on top.

"That's half the fun of it," Burger says.

This year's contest is slightly larger, with 65 amateur teams from across northern Illinois vying for trophies and a chance to advance to professional events. More than 40 judges from the Kansas City Barbeque Society will evaluate ribbers for best sauce (there's also a people's choice award), best ribs, and best dish (anything grilled). Winners will be announced at 6 p.m.

"If you win here, you're in," Burger says.

Despite the stakes, ribbers share bibs and, maybe, a few recipes.

"It's a real nice camaraderie," Burger says.

For foodies, the barbecue starts coming off the grills and makeshift smokers at noon.

"You smell downtown before you get to downtown," Burger says.

Competition fees and other proceeds raise money for Bridge Communities, a Glen Ellyn nonprofit group that provides transitional housing, job counseling and tutoring to homeless families in DuPage County.

In the last six years, the Backyard BBQ has garnered more than $116,000 for Bridge. It's an unimaginable number to the friends who started what was a neighborhood block party on Willis Street with about a dozen competitors. That first year, organizers raised $200.

"It's about community as a whole," Burger says.

And staying true to their backyard party roots, organizers have booked live music too. Innerspice is set to perform jam rock from 1 to 2:30 p.m.; On Your Marx plays reggae from 3 to 4:15 p.m.; Smoked Rock and Soul brings the rockabilly from 4:45 to 6 p.m.; and Expo 76 and The Total Pro Horns plays classic rock from 7 to 9 p.m.

New this year is a dunk tank, though Burger is tight-lipped about who will teeter above the water.

All the major barbecue styles will be represented, from Cajun to Kansas City to Chicago to Texas dry rubs.

"You'd be surprised the variety that comes out of this and the creativity that people have," Burger says. "It's really quite amazing."

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