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Backyard BBQ Building Community, Bridges for Those in Need

The fourth annual Glen Ellyn Backyard BBQ Cook-Off will be held Saturday in downtown Glen Ellyn. The event benefits Bridge Communities.

What started off as a block party has grown into an annual community event benefitting local nonprofit .

Glen Ellyn’s fourth annual Backyard BBQ Cook-Off was the idea of a small group who hoped it would draw people downtown. It started off small as a block party, but the group found residents were interested in the barbecue festival. Now the event, being held Saturday, will draw more than 1,000 people to Glen Ellyn’s downtown.

“We had three goals,” said Tom "Pig Daddy" Koprowski, one of the event’s founders. “One was to create foot traffic for our downtown. To promote and help a charity and Bridge is respected in the community. And, to provide a fun environment for the community.”

The event will have 46 teams competing in categories including best ribs, best side dish and best sauce. Last year, there were 40 teams competing in the contest.

Glen Ellyn will have strong representation at this year’s event with 13 hometown teams competing, Koprowski said. The team traveling the farthest to attend will be from Normal.

“The most important thing is it is a family event, free and you can come and listen to music all day if you want,” he said.

Four bands will perform during the event. Along with the musical entertainment, there will be a bags tournament, a raffle, kids' zone with inflatables and face painting. And, of course, there will be food.

Local favorites and will be serving food along with professional vendors Brand BBQ Market and Smokin' Wills, Koprowski said.

“I’m a big barbecue enthusiast,” Koprowski said. “… And I enjoy promoting barbecue as America’s cuisine and just enjoy the relaxed environment it provides.”

A committee of seven people helps plan the event, he said. The net proceeds will be donated to Bridge Communities, which provides housing and a brighter future for homeless families in need.

The event raises about $15,000 for Bridge Communities. The money goes toward its transitional housing program, which provides homes, mentoring, counseling, tutoring, employment services and transportation for the homeless families the organization serves in DuPage County, according to the nonprofit.

“What makes our event special and unique is that it was created by a group of passionate, volunteer residents and not an organized group such as the Chamber of Commerce or [Downtown] Alliance,” Koprowski said. “We refer to ourselves as the ‘Bar-B-Crew.’ We all met and developed the idea while participating on a Glen Ellyn online forum while discussing ideas as to how to best generate foot-traffic into our charming and historic downtown commercial district.”

The top placing teams will get a trophy this year, he said. The other contestants will receive ribbons for their efforts.

The musical performances include:

11 a.m. - 2 p.m.: Buzz Kilman and the Blues Rocket Scientists

2 – 4 p.m.: Cadillac Dave and his Chicago Redhots

5 – 6 p.m.: Bill Ande

7 – 9 p.m.: Amy Kelly

To enter the either the barbecue or bags competitions, participants must submit a form and a fee. Applications for the contests and more information can be found at www.glenellynbackyardbbq.com.

The Glen Ellyn fourth annual Backyard BBQ Cook-Off will be held Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. at 505 Crescent Boulevard.  

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