Paducah's historic downtown will be packed full this weekend with barbecue teams, various vendors and those eager to sample all the offerings. Among the organized chaos will be Marshall County's own Friends 'n Kin barbecue team, slinging competition-winning ribs, chicken and pulled pork to benefit the Marshall County Relay for Life/American Cancer Society--which has raised more than $250,000 for their cause in the last 14 years.
Jeff Story of Friends 'n Kin recalled a time when the Relay team was only raising about $300-400 a year and decided that wasn't enough. The team had the idea to pair up with a barbecue team and join the BBQ on the River event in Paducah. The first year they were able to raise $3,000; last year, they were able to raise $16,000.
"We used to have to stand on the corner and beg people to come in," he recalled with a laugh. "Now, we're in the back and we always have a huge line."
Story said the team of volunteers will begin setup on Monday to prepare for the three-day event which kicks off this Thursday, Sept. 26. They'll begin cooking Wednesday afternoon, he said, preparing for the crowd but also preparing for the takeout orders. He said they typically fulfill about 250 takeout orders on Thursday and another 250 takeout orders on Friday, which are delivered to a few of the plants in Calvert City and other Marshall County businesses.
Friends 'n Kin's specialty is ribs, Story said, and the team took home first place last year in Backyard Ribs. He said they also enjoy cooking a whole hog for the competition. Additionally, the menu includes pulled pork, half or whole chicken, half or whole slabs of ribs, brisket and bologna. New to the menu about three years ago and coming back again this year due to its popularity: bbq nachos. Story said people enjoy grabbing a tray of nachos and then walking around to sightsee while they eat.
The volunteers will work more than 18 hours per day for the duration of the event, Story said, cooking, preparing and serving the meals. And some will even stay overnight with the equipment and food. He said 100% of the profits will be donated to the American Cancer Society.
"Cancer touches everybody and just about everybody on our team, the Relay team or the bbq team, has been touched by someone who has cancer. We have a few who are cancer survivors and we have lost a few team members to cancer," he said. "And that's the reason we do it. We're proud to be part of this Marshall County community that's so giving."
This year's event is the 25th annual BBQ on the River in Paducah. The official website reported more than 35 barbecue teams will cook more than 80,000 pounds of pork and chicken with hopes of taking home the Grand Champions trophy. The mission of the event is raising money for charity, cooking the best barbecue in the nation and drawing the largest crowd to historic downtown Paducah. For more information about the event visit bbqontheriver.org.
To schedule a pre-order with Friends 'n Kin or volunteer to help call Story at 270-205-0897. He said all requests for pre-order must be made by Wednesday morning.