The 4th Annual State BBQ competition is a month away but organizers are still accepting applications for professional grilling teams, amateur grillers and vendors.

Grill masters and weekend barbequers, it's time to dust off all the tools of the trade and start preparing for the 4th Annual Middletown State BBQ Cook-Off.

The event, regularly held the third weekend in May and sanctioned by the Kansas City BBQ Society, serves as the Delaware State BBQ Championship competition, qualifying the winner to compete in the Jack Daniels World Tournament in Lynchburg, Tenn.

Last year, more than 10,000 meat-lovers attended the three-day event, sampling every kind of meat imaginable, perusing craft vendors and the car show, enjoying carnival rides and games, tasting and testing choices in the wine and beer garden and listening to live music.

Much of the event is set in stone, like the live music and the official daily schedules, but there's still room for participation.

Wondering how to join the fun? Here's what you need to know now:

I want to cook

This particular local KCBS competition features two levels of competition: professional and amateur. Participants can choose for themselves which end of the spectrum they fall on but the general rule of thumb for barbeque cook-offs seems to be that professionals have competed on some level before, be it as a professional or even as an amateur. Amateurs, however, would be defined as a competition newbie – someone who has a passion for it and is finally ready to share his or her secret sauce with the world.

The prizes for both categories are coveted spots on a larger scale. The professional will go on to this year's Jack Daniels World Tournament in Lynchburg, Tenn., as well as cash prizes. The winning amateur will automatically secure a spot to cook alongside the professionals next year.

Sixty-three teams have already signed up but registration is still open for both categories. Professional registration is $250 through Sunday, April 21, when it becomes $275. The fee covers a 25 foot by 25 foot space but more space is available. Private, portable restroom facilities are also available for $85.

Amateur registration is substantially less and can be purchased for $40. Both registrations are available online at

I want to be a vendor

With more than 10,000 spectators ambling through the competition, the event offers craft and food vendors the opportunity to introduce themselves to the public on a grand but short-term scale.

With an expansive property like Frightland, event organizers are still looking for new and returning vendors, who are able to set up shop in a 10-foot-by-10-foot space. Registration is $100 through Sunday, April 28. On Monday, April 29, the fee will increase to $125.

Middletown Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Roxane Ferguson hopes to see a wide range of vendors sign up for this year's three-day event.

"This year marks the 4th annual Middletown Cook-Off, which offers something for the whole family," said Ferguson. "Last year, we had carnival rides, crafts, a beer and wine garden and lots of fabulous food. Each year, the event gets bigger and bigger and we're looking forward to another great year."