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Smoke on the Plains Derby BBQ Fest


If you’re stumbling around downtown Derby in Kansas around June 10th and 11th this year, you’ll be glad to hear that Smoke on the Plains is back again. There’s plenty to do and loads to see, but most importantly lots more to eat when it comes to real Kansas-style BBQ. This fantastic barbecue cook-off will have live music and special events with guests for the two days this BBQ music fest will be held.

How did Smoke on the Plains get started?

The National Bar-B-Cue Derby In 2011

Back in 2011, this BBQ event was ironically known by a whole other name. It was originally called The National Bar-B-Cue Derby and was planned to be held on Patriot Day in September. This event was meant specifically to honor the US military. It wasn’t as large as it has become these days and began with a Pro and backyard BBQ contest complete with an Apple pie contest and a 5K ‘Rib Run’.

They even held a Spelling Bee for the local kids of Derby to pad things out nicely. The big winners back at that time were a BBQ team from Witchita. By the next year in 2012, they added a people’s choice contest and added Cherry Pie to their pie contest. Things started to get rolling in 2013 when a chocolate chip cookie contest and car show were added. By that time, this 3-year old event was now officially sanctioned by KCBS (Kansas City BBQ Society).

By 2014, the event name was changed again to the Derby BBQ Festival. They added the Kid’s Corner play area and local food trucks as this festival grew over the years. By 2018, the event schedule dates were changed from September to June because of an Air Show that was being held at McConnel Air Force Base on the same day. By 2019, the name final changes to Smoke on the Plains Derby BBQ & Music Fest and hasn’t changed since then.

This is when carnival rides and games were added which added more things to do with the kids and grownups. Sadly in 2020, the pandemic had to be canceled but returned in 2021 which was scaled back slightly to work around COVD-19 safety distancing. Their 2022 BBQ & Music Fest this year is expected to be bigger than ever.

What’s being offered this year?

People tasting BBQ from food trucks

This year, you’ll be happy to hear that there will be the backyard BBQ cook-off, SCA Steak cook-off, beer garden, food trucks, Kid’s Corner, Corn Hole Tournament, live music, and much more. This time it will be presented by Rock Regional Hospital and will return to the genuinely scenic High Park in Derby. Over two days, each day will offer something different but the second day is dedicated to most of the serious BBQ action.

They’ve added a special $5 tasting kits for those who want to get samples from the food trucks and also from the People’s Choice contest. The first day only begins from 6 to 9pm so it’s just a taste of what the second day will have to offer. The next day this festival shifts into high gear with Bloody Marys and Mimosas from 9-11am. There will be live music from 9am to 2pm, and then from 6 to 10 pm after that. The two separate

BBQ groups will also include the Pro and Backyard divisions.

There are a total of 9 pitmasters in the Pro cook-off and 6 within the Backyard teams. The awards will be announced at 3pm to reveal the winners. Since this is an officially sanctioned KCBS event, all of the competitors will need to follow the official cook-off rules. And while you can’t just get a taste of their food so easily, this is where the tasting kit will give you instant access to their tasty winning creations. Since there are more than 9 festival food vendors, you won’t need to starve since they all offer everything from breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Safety considerations

10-11 June Smoke on the Plains BBQ & Music Fest

As many states are finally rolling back Pandemic restrictions, there doesn’t appear to much need to socially distance as they needed to in 2021. While masks are optional, it’s a matter of how comfortable you feel about being in public. And since more and more people are excited to come back to Smoke on the Plains BBQ & Music Fest this June 10-11 this year.

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