Wayne White | Managing Editor

OSAGE CITY—Partly smoky with hearty digestion is Osage City’s forecast for April 9-10, as the seventh annual Smoke In The Spring state barbecue competition gets underway. The Friday and Saturday event promises fun for everyone, including cooks and judges, classic car enthusiasts, downtown visitors and people who just like to eat.

The main event is a Kansas City Barbeque Society sanctioned event that has attracted competition barbecue teams from 10 states. Corey Linton, Osage City Parks and Recreation director and contest organizer, reported that applications have been accepted from 84 barbecue teams.

“That’s our max,” Linton said, noting the availability of spaces and electrical hookups for teams at Osage City’s Jones Park. “I’ve had to find spaces for teams and I’ve had to turn teams away.”

The event has shown steady growth since it began in 2004. In 2008, there were 51 teams; last year 64 teams competed. Included in this year’s roster is last year’s grand champions, Munchin’ Hogs at the Hilton, of Prairie Village, and cookers from Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Oklahoma, Minnesota, South Dakota, North Dakota, Texas, Nebraska and Ohio. Also drawn to the event are enough barbecue judges and table captains to support the huge competition.

The competition offers over $10,000 in total prize money and awards.

While the barbecue competition is the centerpiece to the event, this year’s organizers have planned other activities for the community and visitors.

Friday evening, the dinner bell will ring for barbecue enthusiasts who wish to sample competition cookery, as 25 teams have agreed to cook for the Taste of Osage City.

Advance sales of BBQ Bucks started this week at Edward Jones, Osage City, and at Osage City Hall. The scrip money can be exchanged for barbecued foods offered by the participating teams in a designated area on the north side of Jones Park. BBQ Bucks will also be on sale 4-7 p.m. April 9 at the OCPR building. Teams choose what they cook and offer to the public, but those who partake are sure to taste some of the finest barbecue available.

“Essentially, it is a large buffet,” Linton said.

Food will be offered beginning at 6 p.m. and will be available “until it runs out,” Linton said.

That evening will also be the Kids Q competition, open to all children, with two categories, 10 years and under, or 11 years and older. Sign-up deadline for the Kids Q is 5 p.m. April 9 with a fee of $10. The competition begins at 5:30 p.m. and contestants are given one pound of hamburger to cook however they wish. All food must be cooked on site, and competitors are allowed to set up their cook stations at the park wherever there is space. Turn in time will be at 8 p.m.

“This gives the kids the opportunity to be as creative as possible, get their hands dirty, and cook in competition,” Linton said.

Another unique event planned for April 9 is a lawn mower demolition derby that begins at 7 p.m. at the old grandstand area at Jones Park. An admission fee will be charged.

Friday’s events will be highlighted with live entertainment. Performing in the OCPR building will be Old Skool, a band that will deliver a mix of classic and modern rock, country and blues. The performance begins at 8 p.m. and will go until midnight. The band is sponsored by Skydive Kansas and no admission fee will be charged.

Also inside the building will be a beer garden hosted by the Osage City Lions Club. Tables and chairs will be available inside for anyone who wishes to sit and eat. The building will open at 6 p.m. for the public.

Most barbecue teams will likely be cooking throughout the night Friday, but Saturday’s competition gets underway at 10 a.m. with judges’ check-in. The contest continues throughout the day until the awards presentation at 4 p.m. Although competitors won’t be able to provide food to visitors during the competition, a barbecue lunch will be offered 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. by the Osage City Band Boosters. The fundraiser lunch will be at the Osage City community building.

April 10 events also feature a car show at the Jones Park track, hosted by the Twin Lakes Cruisers. Registration begins at 8 a.m. and the show will last until the 2:30 p.m. awards presentation. In conjunction with the car show, Osage City’s Inside Track committee will host Cruise Downtown Osage City, beginning at 4 p.m. Spectators and drivers will converge downtown for food, drinks, children’s and adults’ activities, a DJ and music. Drawings will be held every 30 minutes. A number of downtown businesses plan to be open during the cruise. Everyone is invited to bring lawn chairs and enjoy an evening of old-fashioned Saturday night fun.

To finish off the evening, the Osage City PTA will present a free outdoor movie at 8:30 p.m. in the vacant lot across from the Osage City Post Office, on Sixth Street.

Programs for the events will be available at Osage City Hall, Edward Jones, Bank of Osage City, The Osage County Herald-Chronicle and other sponsoring businesses. For more information, contact Linton at (785) 528-4610 or see www.smokeinthespring.com.