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OSAGE CITY—If there’s smoke, it must be spring. In Osage City, an abundance of smoke signals the eighth annual Smoke In The Spring state championship barbecue contest, which begins Friday. The weekend 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 contest that has attracted competition barbecue teams from three states. Corey Linton, Osage City Parks and Recreation director and contest organizer, reported that applications have been accepted from 83 barbecue teams.

“That’s our max,” Linton said, noting the availability of spaces and electrical hookups for cooking teams at Osage City’s Jones Park. “We have space for 84 teams but the last spot is being kept open in honor of Chef Will Wright.”

Wright has been a participant at the Osage City contest since the competition started. He died last April from a heart attack, shortly after the local competition. His empty space will be a tribute to his participation over the years, Linton said.

The event has shown steady growth since it began in 2004. In 2008, there were 51 teams; in 2009, 64 teams competed; 2010 brought 84 teams and again this year, a full house of participants. 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 prizes and awards.

While the barbecue competition is the centerpiece of 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 33 teams have agreed to cook for the Taste of Osage City. This represents the most teams that have cooked for the Friday event.

Advance sales of BBQ Bucks started at Edward Jones, Osage City, and Osage City Hall. The scrip money can be exchanged for barbecued foods offered by the participating teams in a designated area of Jones Park. BBQ Bucks will also be on sale 4-7 p.m. April 8 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.

“Food 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 4:30 p.m. April 8 with a fee of $10. All food must be cooked on site. Awards and prizes will be given to the top five places in each category.

At 7 p.m. April 8 will be the Osage City Lions Club riding lawn mower demolition derby in South 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 delivers a mix of classic and modern rock, country and blues. The performance begins at 8 p.m. and will go until midnight. No admission fee will be charged.

Most barbecue teams will likely be cooking throughout Friday night, but Saturday’s competition starts with the 10 a.m. judges’ check-in. The contest continues until winners are announced at 4 p.m.

The Osage City Band Booster Club will serve pulled pork, sides, and drinks from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturday in the community building.

April 9 events also feature a car show hosted by the Twin Lakes Cruisers. Registration begins at 8 a.m. and show will last until the 2:30 p.m. awards presentation.

In conjunction with the car show, beginning at 4 p.m. spectators and drivers can converge downtown for food, drinks, a DJ and music, and cruising in downtown Osage City. Market Street will not be closed to traffic, but designated parking for classic cars will be available on Market Street and west of Santa Fe Park. Everyone is invited to bring lawn chairs and enjoy an evening of old-fashioned Saturday night fun. To finish the evening, the Osage City PTA will present a free outdoor movie in Santa Fe Park.

A schedule of 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.