Smokers prepare for Taste of Osage City

OSAGE CITY—The 11th Annual Smoke in the Spring State Barbeque Competition will return to Osage City April 11-12, along with a host of related entertainment and activities, including a fly-in, car show and plenty of food.

Regional teams will arrive early on Friday and begin preparing for the Taste of Osage City, the public’s opportunity to take home competition-quality barbeque from 5 p.m. Friday night until the food’s gone.

“We have 24 teams this year,” said Corey Linton, contest organizer. “The breakup of the teams cooking, it’s basically going to be Osage County versus Topeka.”

The contest will feature an increase in teams cooking from last year. The BBQ Pitmasters’ trailer and outdoor stage, which was used for a filming of an episode last year, will be absent this year, leaving the northern lots available
for teams.

“A lot of the teams cooking have done it for multiple years now, and they really enjoy it,” Linton said.

The teams will serve up a variety of foods, from the usual fare to more exotic grilled items.

“The menu has expanded a great deal for what the teams offer,” Linton said. “You’ve got the normal pulled pork, but nachos seem to be a big thing as well. You’ve also got deep fried all kinds of fun stuff – Twinkies, Snickers and Oreos.”

Additional items include specialties such as ham balls and bacon-wrapped pork bites.

“Several of the teams that cook Friday now vend a lot of places,” Linton said.

BBQ Bucks are required to purchase food during the Taste of Osage City, and are available from Edward Jones at 516 Market St. and Osage City Hall at 201 S. Fifth St., both in Osage City. BBQ Bucks will also be available during the contest at the Osage City Parks and Recreation building.

Public entertainment will continue Friday evening with live music from Downward Spiral, featuring Osage City alumnus Steve Nelson. The band plays an assortment of rock, country and originals.

“I’m anxious to see what they’re all about,” Linton said. “I’ve heard several positive things about them.”

Music continues from 8 p.m. to midnight in the OCPR Building, with beverages served by the Osage City Eagles.

Friday night also signals the start of cooking for the barbeque competition, where 77 teams will compete this year for top cash and prizes in one of the states largest contests.

“We’re a little down from out normal – 84 is our benchmark,” Linton said. “The previous two years we had hit that mark, and had turned quite a few away.”

This year’s total is up slightly from last year, when construction and taping of the BBQ Pitmasters episode took up 12 team lots. Linton expected the number to jump back up, but considered a late winter among the possible reasons for the lack of increase.

“There’s a lot of variables,” Linton said. “We’re still the only contest in Kansas that weekend.”

Friday night will also feature the youth portion of the event, the Kids-Q. Elementary and middle school-aged cooks compete in two categories, 10-and –under and 11-16.

“They have to partner with a team, that’s per KCBS regulations,” Linton said. “A team can partner with as many kids as they want to.”

Deadline to participate is 5 p.m. on Friday, and the cost is $10 per cooker.

The contest will be filmed by Sunflower Journeys to run sometime in the fall, following the footsteps of BBQ Pitmasters and AG am in Kansas.

Additional events during the weekend include the 10th Annual Cruis’n and Cook’n Car Show, spanning three blocks in downtown Osage City from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. The Osage City High School band will be serving a fundraiser barbeque lunch Saturday at the Osage City Senior Center, 604 Market Street. For more information visit www.cruisnandcookn.com.

The Bill Warneke Memorial Easter Egg Hunt will be hosted at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Jones Park ball diamonds, along with an Easter Egg hunt at 2 p.m. at Vintage Park.

A new event this year will be the Wings in the Spring Fly In at Osage City Airport. Several planes are scheduled to fly into the airport that day. For more information, visit www.osagecityairport.com.

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The Osage County Herald-Chronicle

The official newspaper of Osage County; the cities of Burlingame, Carbondale, Lyndon, Melvern, Olivet, Osage City, Overbrook, Quenemo and Scranton; Burlingame USD 454, Lyndon USD 421, Marais des Cygnes Valley USD 456, Osage City USD 420 and Santa Fe Trail USD 434.

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