Local barbecue competition has pricey money trail - Cincinnati News, Weather, Sports from FOX19 NOW-WXIX

Local barbecue competition has pricey money trail

A vendor checks his barbecue on Friday at the River Grill Before the Big Chill cook-off. (FOX19) A vendor checks his barbecue on Friday at the River Grill Before the Big Chill cook-off. (FOX19)
CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - It's all things barbecue at Sawyer Point this weekend for the first ever River Grill Before the Big Chill, but the cost to bring the event to Cincinnati has raised some concerns.

Last year the city spent thousands of dollars to research the event.

The FOX19 Investigative Team found that the Cincinnati Parks Department traveled to Las Vegas, where a similar event was held, in order to better plan for this one.

[FOX19 INVESTIGATES: Willie Carden's Sin City Spending]

This weekend's event benefits the waterfront parks and offers more than $20,000 worth of prize money to 80 local and out-of-state vendors. But some are wondering if a $9,486.15 trip was necessary to successfully put on the barbeque competition.

Carden told FOX19 NOW in an email that the purpose of the trip was to "ascertain how they started their event, review their event logistics and event programming." He traveled to with three other city employees to Vegas, where the went to the World Food Championships.

Receipts show that Carden and the manager of financial services for Cincinnati Parks both traveled in first class on the flight. Their tickets were $1,095 apiece.

The tab also included a stay at the Mandalay Bay with upgraded rooms, drinks at the Four Seasons Bar, and a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon, where the tour and deposit cost $1,560.80.

"Make people spend their own money to find out about these things," said Cincinnatian Sam Banks.

Carden says that trip wasn't funded with taxpayer money, but rather with money from the Cincinnati Parks Foundation. Thousands of Tri-State residents and businesses have donated millions of dollars to support that charitable organization over the years.

FOX19 NOW was unable to track Carden down for comment at the event on Friday.

River Grill Before the Big Chill is from noon until 11 p.m. on Saturday at Sawyer Point.

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