The smell of barbecue wafted in the air Friday night as around a dozen barbecue competitors participated in the 2013 4 States BBQ Championship, hosted by Downstream Casino Resort.

Friday’s event was open to the public, with the Saturday event – which had an estimated 33 competitors – was open to the judges to pick the grand champion.

One of the competitors on Friday night was a Carthage team named Smokin’ S’s, made up of Joe Duncan, Paul Sageser, Dave Bayse and Al Simmons.

“This is my team, I entered it, but we are co-working with the VFW of Carthage this year,” said Simmons, who has entered the local competition for the past three years. “They are a great bunch of guys out there.”

During the Friday event, the public sampled the different types of meats and picked the people’s choice for the award. The competitors cooked chicken wings and pork butts. They could also cook other things if they desired.

“We are throwing in a few stuffed bacon wrapped jalapenos and stuffed mushrooms,” Simmons said.

They began Friday’s event around 8 a.m., which included unloading, and setting up their space. The public started to come in at 7 p.m.

“The butt roast is a longer term cook thing. We managed to get it done,” he said.

As far as why Simmons enjoys to participate, he said, “I like to cook. We cook out at the VFW every month for the members meeting, cook every third Sunday we have a brunch at the VFW, it alternates between the junior girls, ladies auxiliary and the men’s auxiliary.”

Asked if when he prepares for these barbecue competitions, does he look through cookbooks, Simmons said, “it is just recipes that we have done over the years. I would like to say that it is special rubs, but it is some spices that we throw together. It is what you like to put on it, it is time and temperature just like cooking in the kitchen. Hopefully the smoke is the flavor profile, we use several different types of wood, we use cherry, pecan and maple, or some hickory.”

A few years back, Simmons competed in the Kansas City’s American Royal (barbecue competition).

“I have cooked at the Royal for five years, in the open competition, that was several years ago,” he said. “It is a good competition. The competition was tough, the folks here at Downstream, there is none better. They do put on a good event.”

And for those who would like to start cooking barbecue whether it is a hobby or for competition, Simmons has some advice.

“Start on the low end,” he said. “You can get grills that $100, or you can go to $50,000 grill or anything in between. Start on the low end, practice, cook at home, feed your family, feed the neighbors, build it up, then you learn what works, and what doesn’t. You stay with what works and don’t do it again if it doesn’t.”