Smokin’ on the Summit goes big-time

tporter@lsjournal.comJune 7, 2013 

  • 3 The number of years the Smokin’ on the Summit barbeque competition has been held in Lee’s Summit in conjunction with the annual Downtown Days street festival.

A series of phone calls eventually led to a defining moment for organizers of the Smokin’ on the Summit BBQ competition.

The first call came as a surprise, but soon the Destination America program BBQ Pitmasters made arrangements to travel to Lee’s Summit to film the third annual competition June 7-8.

The purpose of the trip is to shoot an episode of the show for their upcoming season.

BBQ Pitmasters is a reality television series on Destination America that features pre-selected competitive barbecue teams as they compete head to head for cash prizes. Each episode is shot from a different location around the country.

“I was left a message in my office about videoing at the barbeque,” said Keith Stidham of the Downtown Lee’s Summit Rotary Club and one of the organizers of Smokin’ on the Summit. The event is a fundraiser presented by Saint Luke’s East Hospital and the Downtown Lee’s Summit Rotary Club, and is held in conjunction with the Downtown Days street festival June 7-9 in Lee’s Summit. “I actually didn’t get to call back until the next day. They said they were considering events and we were on a list of about 40-some odd competitions. They asked would we be interested in being on the short list.

“I left it at that; I didn’t think it would go any further than that. They called back a couple of weeks later and ask me why Lee’s Summit…We set up a phone interview and I said: ‘You can’t ask for a better situation than what you’ve got here. The event is well-organized, we have a lot of teams, it’s very busy, there are people in the streets, there’s a festival going on; you’ve got this city street lined with street lights and banners and all the great things that goes along with small town America.’”

Now in its third year, Smokin’ on the Summit is sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbeque Society and is a Missouri State Championship event. Destination America’s executives selected Smokin’ on the Summit from other similar competitions nationwide.

“It all started in 2009 when the idea was conceived and we started planning,” Stidham said of the success of the competition. “Instead of jumping into it, and throwing it out there trying to make it happen and learning along the way, we took those two years to make sure in 2011 the event that went off looked like it had been going on for years. And, that was the feedback we got.”

When asked about being selected by Destination America’s BBQ Pitmasters, Lee’s Summit Downtown Rotary Club President Cheryl Julo replied: “When you consider the success of our event in the first two years, the crowds that are drawn to the festival environment of Downtown Days and the charming, picturesque atmosphere of beautiful downtown Lee’s Summit, our event was absolutely the best choice. This will be a great addition to the event and an added bonus to Downtown Days. We love to show off Lee’s Summit.”

Trisha Drape, executor director of Downtown Lee’s Summit Main Street – the host of Downtown Days – said the television crew’s presence is another added bonus to an already burgeoning barbeque competition.

“I think it’s very exciting to have that T.V. show down here,” she said. “It’s going to bring even more people to Downtown Days.”

Up to 80 barbecue teams will compete for a $10,000 purse and the right to be the 2013 Grand Champion of Smokin’ on the Summit.

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