WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – This year, Juneteenth ICT organizers are using the newest federal holiday to honor former Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer’s legacy. Brewer was known as a barbecue coinsurer, and contestants who have what it takes will compete in the inaugural Carl Brewer Cook-Off to secure bragging rights for the year.
One of those contestants is the former mayor’s son, Carlo. The cook-off named after his father will be his first competition and he is grateful to honor his father’s legacy.
“It’s a great opportunity to be able to get my feet wet in the competition. Barbecue competition without my dad running the show.”
Even though it’s his first solo competition, Brewer says he’s not nervous.
“We’re just going to do our thing—and pretty much do it for the people—and see how well we do,” Brewer said.
He’ll be using his dad’s signature sauce in the competition and is confident he can’t lose with his secret weapon.
Cathy, the former mayor’s wife, says she and her late husband had a little competition themselves and remembers always beating him at a Dodge City cook-off.
“One year, we went and I thought that I had messed up my desert,” she said. “He didn’t think I’d get anything, and I still managed to get third place. I remember him going, ‘Oh, unbelievable. She still won.’”
Vice Mayor Brandon Johnson has fond memories of his own. He and a friend entered a cook-off that Brewer was judging, and even though he didn’t win, Johnson says Brewer gave him the stamp of approval calling his chicken “the best.”
“He said I did it right,” Johnson said. “‘The skin was crispy. It looked good. It wasn’t soft anywhere. The meat was just perfect. I seasoned it right.’ I’m the champion either way it goes.”
Although his father is no longer here manning the grill, Brewer is honored that his legacy will live on.
“He would really appreciate it,” Carlo said. “This was his passion—smoking meat, barbecuing and the black community alone. All of it was his passion.”