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Thousands Queue Up for BBQ at Barbecue Block Party

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This weekend 16 pitmasters from across the country will take on New York one grill at a time for the ninth-annual Big Apple Barbecue Block Party. The event, being held Saturday and Sunday, whose founders include Blue Smoke pitmaster Kenny Callaghan and Danny Meyer of Shake Shack fame, is intended to bring New Yorkers the best barbecue bites from across the country.

The Block Party, which will take place in Madison Square Park, is free to attend, although those looking to grab some grub must fork over $8 per plate. The event is expected to attract over 100,000 hungry New Yorkers (last year drew 125,000 BBQ afficionados), a far cry from their inaugural year attendance.

“When we started this event [nine years] ago with [six] pitmasters in front of Blue Smoke, we weren’t sure how it would go," explained Callaghan. "But when that first event attracted 5,000 people, despite raining almost straight through, we knew we were on to something. Almost a decade later, we’re excited that so many locals and tourists come out every Barbecue weekend to enjoy some of the nation’s best ’cue with us.”

Among those feeding the masses are New York natives Kenny Callaghan of Blue Smoke, Jon Stage of Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, John Wheeler of Rack & Soul and Charles Grund Jr. of Hill Country. Along with their fellow pitmasters--all of whom have previously participated in the event--these masters of the grill will serve up options including brisket, pulled pork, smoked sausage and three different rib varieties.

Each pitmaster will have his own “rig” and each restaurant is set up on the north or east side of Madison Square Park.

If you’re looking to grab some grub but mind your b’s and q’s, this year the Big Apple Barbecue is introducing Whole Turkey BBQ from Ed Mitchell. Shake Shack is also located in the middle of the park, which means that vegetarians can join their carnivorous comrades and enjoy the restaurant’s ‘Shroomburger, fries, frozen custard and more.

In addition to sating their hunger with award-winning barbecue bites, attendees can enjoy free cooking demonstrations and seminars, live music and other attractions. Headlining the musical performances is Beatles cover-band Bambi Kino, and closing the weekend is blues-rock group Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears. The acts will play for free from the music stage inside Madison Square Park.

Desserts, supplied by Blue Smoke Bake Shop and The Original Fried Pie Shop, are $4 per serving and beverages range from $2-6. Proceeds from the event will go to the Madison Square Park Conservancy.

The event runs in Madison Square Park from Saturday, June 11 to Sunday, June 12 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day.