Barbecue Contest Expected to Heat Up Fort Washington

Gale Horton Gay | 5/23/2012, 4:05 p.m.

Finger Lickin' Goodness is Coming to Prince George's County

Scores of barbecue grilling teams are expected to descend on Tucker Road Athletic Complex in Fort Washington for the 6th Annual Beltway BBQ Showdown on June 2. The competition takes place from noon to 5 p.m. with 50 teams expected to compete in four categories: pork, ribs, chicken and beef.

Judges will determine the best barbecue based on taste, texture and appearance. There will also be a People's Choice winner, determined by which team gets the most tickets from visitors who sample the fixings.

Trophies and $5,000 in prize money is at stake as well as the privilege for the Grand Champion to advance to the American Royal competition in Kansas City, Mo., in the fall.

Jonathan Jones, facility director with the Prince George's Department of Parks and Recreation and the originator of the competition, describes the event as a "phenomenon" that's become very popular in Maryland.

"It's all for the love of smoke and meat," Jones said.

Over the years, the event has grown significantly.

Last year, about 5,000 people attended. Jones is anticipating a crowd of about 7,000 this year. Some of the competitors are regulars who travel the country working the barbecue competition circuit.

"There's a lot of camaraderie," Jones said, pointing out that it attracts people of all races and ethnicities.

Among the entertainers lined up for this year's show are the Chuck Brown Band, Anthony "Swamp Dog" Clark as well as Bryan Clark and the Secret Society. The free event also includes a classic car show, a children's area and food and merchandise vendors.

Shawn "Dis" McCarthy of Bowie is hoping to wow the judges with a re-worked chicken recipe. McCarthy along with his wife Sienna and friend Nicole Thompson make up team Sie's Dis BBQ, a first-time entry in the competition.

"Last year when the team took part in barbecue competitions for the first time they managed to mess up everything," McCarthy said. But they still finished in the middle of the pack.

McCarthy, 34, said organization is the key to competing successfully.

He said the trio has the ability to work well in a tight space and know how each other responds "when something goes wrong." However, none of them have any culinary experience. McCarthy is a systems administrator, his wife is an administrative assistant and Thompson is a human resources representative.

Also this year a teen competition will take place on Friday, June 1. The teams, which have already been chosen, will each include a maximum of six young people who will prepare barbecue chicken. Jones said a new addition to the teen program this year is a chef-led cooking class.

Barbecue lovers will have the opportunity to do a little finger licking of their own by purchasing "Buck a Bone" samples for $1 from some of the competitors.

The Tucker Road Athletic Complex is located at 1770 Tucker Road in Fort Washington.

For more information on the Beltway BBQ Showdown, visit www.pgparks.com\Beltway_BBQ.htm.