Grilling action at the Canadian Festival of Chili and Barbecue at the Cascades Casino, Hotel and Convention Centre in Langley. The 30th annual festival takes place May 6 and 7.                                 Submitted photo

Grilling action at the Canadian Festival of Chili and Barbecue at the Cascades Casino, Hotel and Convention Centre in Langley. The 30th annual festival takes place May 6 and 7. Submitted photo

Canadian Festival of Chili and Barbecue returns to Langley City

The 30th annual festival takes place at the Cascades Casino, Hotel and Convention Centre May 6 and 7

The secret to winning a barbecue competition is to cook for the judges, not for yourself.

“I always say you’re cooking for six people you don’t know,” says Wayne Fettback, a Langley resident who’s been competing for 17 years.

Fettback, a former chef and restaurant owner, personally favours spicy recipes and seafood, but is less extreme when he is trying to win over taste buds at a competition.

This year, Fettback will be one of dozens of entrants at the 30th annual Canadian Festival of Chili and Barbecue at the Cascades Casino, Hotel and Convention Centre in Langley City this weekend — May 6 and 7.

Teams with colourful names like “Dances With Smoke,” “Porkaholics,” “Fahrenheit 250,” and “Flaming Seahorses” will be vying for over $15,000 in cash and prizes at the event, the largest barbecue contest in Western Canada.

Fettback, with fellow competitor Dave McKay, has been organizing the show for the last seven years.

The festival got its start in New Westminster and moved around the Lower Mainland before settling in Langley.

To honour the memory of firefighter and Canadian Festival founder Dave Veljacic, the event raises money for The BC Professional Fire Fighters Burn Fund.

Over $35,000 has been raised for the charity over the past few years by selling wristbands that allow visitors to taste the entries for a suggested donation of $5.Don’t expect a buffet, however.

Fettback says teams usually don’t have a lot left over once they’ve presented their entries for judging.

His team, the “Mad Cow BBQ” will have about a rack-and-a-half of ribs available for sampling once the judges have finished.

“Once they’re gone, they’re gone,” Fettback says.

The Langley event begins on the Saturday with the British Columbia Chili Championships.

Categories include authentic Texas chili, which means only meat (ground or cubed) and sauce. Anything else, like beans, veggies or garlic, and the competitor risks being disqualified.

Top-place finishers are in line for the Terlingua International Chili Cookoff, the world championships of Texas chili

There is also a home-style chili competition where cooks can add anything they want, a barbecue contest for kids up to 15, and the Canadian Steak Cook-off Championship, Canada’s only SCA ( Steak Cook-off Association) sanctioned event. The winner will qualify to cook at the SCA World Steak Cook-off Championships at Billy Bob’s in Fort Worth, Texas.

The day includes two “side categories”, the Best Darn Burger Championships and Chefs Challenge, where teams are given a mystery protein to perform their magic on.

Past events have deployed loin of Kangaroo and rack of Muskox , Arctic Char and a Bison Sirloin .

On Sunday, visitors can watch teams compete in the BC BBQ Championship.

There are four categories: pork shoulder, beef brisket, chicken and pork ribs cooked for a long time at low temperatures on wood and charcoal fires.

The event is sanctioned by The Pacific Northwest Barbecue Association and is recognized by The Kansas City Barbecue Society.

Winners can qualify to cook at the Jack Daniels Invitational Barbecue in Lynchburg Tennessee, the American Royal in Kansas City and The World Food Championships in Orlando Florida.