Riverboat Days, Clinton’s signature July 4 weekend celebration, has undergone several changes in recent years. Some were borne of necessity, others of choice. Some have been greeted warmly by festival attendees, others have not.

With all that in the rear view mirror, however, we’re very much looking forward to the newest Riverboat Days attraction, Smokin’ on the River, a barbecue contest sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbecue Society. Whoever is named grand champion of the event will qualify to compete in national barbecue contests.

Because of that distinction, the contest will include entrants not just from the Gateway area but from as far away as Texas. Competitive cooking isn’t exactly the National Football League in terms of popularity, but it gains more interest every year.

Local folks who aren’t ready to form a cooking team can get involved by registering as judges. There is a judging certification class in Clinton Saturday at the Vista Grande. At $75 for the certification and KCBS membership, amateurs may not be interested; there must be a few readers out there with sophisticated taste buds who would be thrilled to take their hobby to the next level.

Smokin’ on the River promises to be participatory family-friendly entertainment. We just hoping napkins are in abundance!