BENEZETTE — Area grillers gathered at the Elk Country Visitor Center for some smokin’ excitement Saturday.

Keystone Elk Country Alliance Operations Manager Carla Wehler said 15 teams competed in the smoke-only barbecue competition, “Kill the Grill BBQ Competition.”

The event is in its third year, offering grilling and competition opportunities for both adults and youth, Wehler said.

The adults competed in three categories — chicken, ribs and brisket, while the youth or “calf” competition involved a nacho dish, Weheler said.

Wehler supplies the ingredients for the children’s competition, also throwing in a “mystery item,” she said.

“They have to selectively choose what to use in order to make the best dish,” she said. “I always throw in an odd ingredient. This year, it was baked beans. The winner put them on his nachos, and they were amazing.”

The event also offered a chicken barbecue meal, cooked by twin brothers Matt and Mike Castle of the Benezette Hotel, with proceeds benefiting the youth education programs at the Elk Country Visitor Center.

The competition gives area businesses the chance to compete and showcase their skills, such as the “Rubbed for Your Pleasure” team, which tied for first place in the side-dish competition with a cheesy potato casserole spring roll, smoked brisket and bacon with sweet chili sauce, Wehler said.

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The event is not only a fundraiser for KECA, since it’s a nonprofit organization, but it’s a Food Network-style way of bringing people who enjoy cooking together in elk country.

“It’s a fun event that brings folks together from across the state to compete,” Wehler said.

The 2019 winning teams were Beer and Bones, Eat My Pork, Chunky BBQ and Payton Wolberg.

The barbecue also included a car cruise-in, bringing in more than 49 classic cars for display and entertainment, Wehler said.

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