KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Smokers and grills are heating up as the American Royal World Series of Barbecue returns to KCK.
Barbecue enthusiasts are taking over the Kansas Speedway for the 40th annual event. More than 480 teams are competing for the top honor.
“We came last year here for the American Royal and was lucky enough to win some grand championships, and so we are all the way back here again," said Wayne Dil with team BBQ War.
Dil and his team traveled all the way from New Zealand to experience the competition.
“We actually came here two months ago to prepare ourselves for flavor profiles. We have been traveling around doing small competitions, trying to get used to the American way. The American flavors are very different from what we have back at home," Dil said.
When it comes to international appeal, it doesn’t stop with the cooks.
“We have certified BBQ judges all over the United States and 40 countries around the world. We sanction 500 contests, again, throughout the world. And we have 1,300 volunteers being utilized here at the American Royal," said Emily Detwiler, CEO for the Kansas City Barbecue Society.
But it's not just about exquisite barbecue. The American Royal contributes $1 million annually towards scholarships and outreach initiatives.
This year, the nonprofit is also feeding guests. On Saturday, the first 5,000 people to get through the gates of the Kansas Speedway will receive a free barbecue lunch.
The event starts at 11 a.m. Saturday, and the competition continues until Sunday.