If you have ever been to a cooking competition, you know that by and large, it is just a bunch of folks under tents huddled around grills and smokers with not a lot of things to do. It was certainly the case with the annual PK Grills Cookoff at War Memorial Stadium.
Starting as a small steak competition, this was not that big of a deal, but as the competition has grown and changed venues it created the opportunity to become more.
“Last year we found that people wanted more than watching other folks cook steaks,” PK Grills Partner and CMO Scott Moody tells us. “We saw an opportunity to create more interaction with the people attending the event, so we started to brainstorm ways to involve the attendees and include them in the festival.”
What Moody never said was there is also an overwhelming desire for the people around Little Rock to kick the summer off with a great event. Growing up here that was always Riverfest. Strategically placed on Memorial weekend it was the official beginning of summer. It was more than a music festival, it was the welcoming of summer and a reason to get outdoors and enjoy the warmer (and frequently wet) weather with our friends and neighbors.
The death of Riverfest left an unfilled void in our annual routine. It is something PK’s cookout seems uniquely primed to fill with the changes coming this year.
Things kick off on Friday, May 31st with a welcome party with music, beer, and plenty of food. This year they are partnering with Operation BBQ Relief which is a charitable organization that provides meals to first responders and displaced residents in disaster areas. Tickets for this are $30 each and include food, adult beverages, and music, best of all 100% of the proceeds go to Operation BBQ Relief.
The event really heats up on Saturday, June 1 for the main cookout. This year the focus is heavily on things to do at the event.
“We envision this year as the city’s largest backyard hangout,” Moody explains. “There is going to be something for everyone.”
Visualizing your own backyard party there will be steaks grilling on the side, music playing, and a spot for kids to have fun. The PK Grills Cookout is no different.
Along with the cooking competition, there will be a number of cooking demos and educational events going on to help you learn from experts around the grill. A kids zone will keep the little ones occupied, and music playing all day. Best of all this part will be free to the public.
If you want to try your hand at the competition they are still accepting signups. They have competitions for kids bbq, appetizers, and the signature steak cookoff. For restaurants and professional chefs, there is also a burger competition.
Wrap it all up together and it is easily the event that slides nicely into the role of kick-starting summer in Little Rock.