Local Vendor Complaints May Prompt BBQ Roundup Changes Next Year
By Dave Franzman, Reporter
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - A whiff of controversy that joined the delicious smell of barbecue at the Cedar Rapids BBQ Roundup could prompt some format changes next year. Earlier this weekend, a “grillmaster” from Marion complained that local vendors couldn’t get an invitation to join the Roundup event with all the space going to out-of-town professionals. But Roundup operator VenueWorks may consider a change in that policy for 2013.
Since KCRG-TV9 broke the story on Monday, one person put up a “Boycott BBQ Roundup” page on Facebook. Dozens of people wrote replies and many agreed it doesn’t seem fair to exclude local vendors. One diner at the Roundup Thursday agreed local BBQ outfits have a place in the competition. But that didn’t stop Duane Sabers from enjoying the food sold by the national vendors. “Locals can barbecue as well as the big boys can. So definitely I think the locals should be here,” Sabers said.
Jason Anderson, a VenueWorks manager in charge of the Roundup said the boycott call didn’t seem to impact first day attendance. He called the lunch turnout on Thursday “very good.” But Anderson said after hearing, and reading, some of the complaints he’s decided next year could be different with a place set aside for local barbecue providers. Anderson said he polled most of the big, national outfits cooking at this year’s Roundup and all wouldn’t mind a place or two set aside for a local grille’s. One question, though, might be how to choose. Anderson said it might come down to fans voting for favorites or even some sort of a cook-off competition. “I really have no response on how we would do it,” Anderson said adding “this issue is 2-3 days old and obviously we’ve been busy getting this festival going. But we have a year to pursue it.”
Tom Erger is organizing The Irish District Music and Art Festival — a one-day event on Saturday running during the Roundup. Erger said his festival is built around local vendors and participants and he thinks the Roundup should find rooms for locals too. “I think that would be a great move in the right direction — at least give them a spot in the venue,” Erger said.
Tom Fuhrmeister of Marion, who operates Hawk Wild BBQ, is the one who first brought up the issue of fairness when he inquired about getting into the Roundup lineup in 2013. He said the possibility of a place at the table for local vendors is all he was asking.
Anderson said one sticking issue might be costs. The national BBQ outfits pay between $2,500 and $3,500 for a place to set up at the event. That’s a fee local restaurants or even catering outfits might find hard to swallow.
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