Barbecue returns to Marshalltown

The smell of savory smoked and hot-off-the-grill meats will fill the air this weekend as the 15th Annual Iowa State BBQ Championships makes its way to Marshalltown.

From pork to beef to chicken, it will all be grilled up and on display Friday night at the Fisher Community Center in Marshalltown. Approximately 30 teams will bring their skills to town to cook up the best barbecue in the Midwest.

For the past 15 years, Marshalltown has served as the location of the championships, which is regulated by the Iowa BBQ Society and the Kansas City BBQ Society. Judges are sent in from all over the United States to help with the championships, and the grand champion will go on to compete at the World Food Contest in Las Vegas in November.

Bob Wenner, event organizer, said the championships are a great opportunity for Marshalltown and it’s a great event to come out to and take part in.

The championships kick off Friday night at 4 p.m. with live music, a beverage garden, classic car show and food vendors selling all types of food. Tickets may be purchased for $1 each to purchase food, Wenner said.

“The tickets will allow you to purchase beverage and food,” he said. “We will also have a funnel cake vendor, a popcorn vendor, a shaved ice vendor and baked goods.”

Des Moines blues singer Richard Arndt will start off the music for the night at 5 p.m. on Friday, from 6:45 to 8:30 p.m. local classic rock band Minor Night will perform and headliner Loose Neutral will end the night starting at 9 p.m.

“Loose Neutral is a central Iowa band,” Wenner said. “We kind of chose them because they’re well-known here in Marshalltown.”

The classic car show will start at 5 p.m. Friday and Wenner said any car can join, there’s no entry or pre-registration fee and no prizes. He said people can drive their car and enter the day of the event.

“People can just show up with their cars,” he said. “You’ll be down close to the music and people can just look at your cars.”

Saturday will serve as competition and judgment day, and it is still open to the public, but there won’t be any entertainment or beverage garden, Wenner said.

Wenner said, because of the change of venue, the main parking lot for the event will be the old Econo Foods vacant lot just west of the Fisher Community Center and people can also park at the Marshalltown YMCA-YWCA Cultural Center building and walk over the viaduct. Wenner asked the public to not park at any surrounding businesses that are in operation.

“There are businesses in operation Friday and Saturday, and we don’t want to take their parking spots,” he said.

Overall, Wenner said he is excited for another great year of fun, entertainment and barbecue at this year’s championships.

“This is going to be great,” he said.