Where there's smoke, there's barbecue

It might be the season for all things autumn-flavored, but with nearly two dozen teams bringing their best grill-game to New London on Sunday, the heat of summer will return to Waterfront Park during this year's Best BBQ Chef competition, a Kansas City Barbeque Society-sanctioned state championship.

The Kansas City Barbeque Society sanctions more than 400 barbeque contests throughout the country, and this year marks its third stint in New London. The winner of the New London contest, hosted by the City of New London and the Downtown New London Association, will go on to the American Royal Barbecue competition in Kansas City in October 2014.

Per KC format, teams will compete in four categories of 'que - chicken, pork ribs, pork and beef brisket - with prizes totaling nearly $5,000, including a grand prize of $1,000. Returning to the competition is last year's Grand Champ and first-place winner in the brisket category, Stubborn Bull BBQ of Oceanside, N.Y. Also back for another shot is last year's first-place finisher in pork, ZBQ of Cumberland, R.I.

Accolades aside, the home-turf competition should present a bit of a challenge. Among the local teams is the Waterford-based Myron Mixon Smokers, whose membership includes none other than Myron Mixon himself, who's won more than 200 barbecue championships to date, including 11 national titles. Foodie fans might recognize him from his television show, "BBQ Pitmasters," on Destination America or from his bestselling cookbooks, "Smokin' with Myron Mixon" and "Everyday Barbecue."

A resident of Unadilla, Ga., Mixon found a decidedly Yankee partner in Seconn Fabrication in Waterford, which is working with Mixon to launch a line of barbecue smokers.

Other teams from the region include Danger, Men Cooking of Ivoryton; The Four Drummies BBQ of Niantic; Circle of Friends from Norwich; Smokin Cattle Dog BBQ of Moodus; and the New London Firehouse.

The winners in each category will be revealed at approximately 3 p.m., with judging in each category beginning at noon. Attendees are welcome to watch the grillmasters do their work as the judging unfolds.

And if a front-row seat to a busy grill and the day's planned food demonstrations prove too tantalizing, State Street Saloon, the New London Fire Department and Uncle D's Blazin BBQ will sell barbecue sandwiches, ribs, wings and sides throughout the day.

Of course, BBQ and music go together like beans and cornbread, so starting at noon, Andre, Eddie and Friend will perform a funky, bluesy, rockin' set on the City Pier stage. Come 1 p.m., Roomful of Blues will take the stage and play a set of their signature blues blend.

While the music food and fun are covered, a few words of advice should you find yourself on the waterfront this weekend: bring wet-naps.

IF YOU GO

What: Best BBQ Chef Competition

Where: New London Waterfront Park, 111 Union St., New London

When: Sunday, Sept. 29, from noon to 3 p.m.

Cost: Free

Info: www.neffproductions.com

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