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Jeremy Gaston/Herald-Chronicle
Members of the Blue Bucket BBQ crew, from left, Mike Coffin, Gayle Burns, Terry Albert and Dianne Albert, all of Topeka, accept the grand champion award from event organizer Corey Linton at the Smoke in the Spring State Barbeque Competition in Osage City.

Jeremy Gaston | Editor

OSAGE CITY—Near perfect weekend weather helped create an overwhelmingly successful atmosphere and turnout for the eighth annual Smoke in the Spring Barbeque Championship and surrounding events last weekend in Osage City.

“From my point of view, it was the smoothest contest we’ve had,” said organizer Corey Linton, who has headed up the contest for six years.
The contest kicked off with a best-yet turnout of cookers and eaters at the Taste of Osage City Friday night. More than 30 teams cooked as event-goers spent around $12,000 in BBQ Bucks.

“People were really excited about it,” Linton said. “We sold close to 4,000 more BBQ Bucks than in 2010. The variety of food was good, and the amount of food was about right. Everyone got to eat what they wanted to eat. ”

A short rain shower Friday night didn’t dampen the event or slow it down, as teams finished up entries for turn-in Saturday. When the smoke cleared, Blue Bucket BBQ, Topeka, was the grand champion with 681.1426 points.

“They also cooked on Friday night,” Linton said. “They did everything at the contest and still came out on top.”

The title of reserve champion went to KC Can Crew, Lee’s Summit, Mo., which finished second with 675.9994 points. The top 26 teams all finished within 40 points.

Class awards went to Big O’s BBQ, Kansas City, Mo., chicken; Blue Bucket BBQ, ribs; Mokan Meatheads, Grain Valley, Mo., pork; Dawghouse Crew, Overland Park, brisket; Old Rum Smokers, Emporia, cook’s choice; and Smoke on Wheels, Kansas city, dessert. The brisket and dessert categories each received rare perfect scores of 180 points.

“We had good distribution between the winning teams,” Linton said, noting fewer teams had dominated the competition in years past. “There’s a lot of quality teams.”

The Kids-Q contest was held Friday night, with awards presented out Saturday. Lauren Groneman, Kansas City, won the 10-and-under division; Brayden McDowell, Osage City, was the winner in the 11-and-up division.
The response from the barbecue teams and Kansas City Barbeque Society (KCBS) organizers reflected the response from the community.

“For a community of our size, it really is amazing to them the number of people that come out,” Linton said. “We also received many compliments about our volunteers – how helpful they were and that they were always around.

“The teams know that the community is in full support of the contest,” Linton said. “I had several teams blown away by the participation.”

The success spilled over into the lawnmower demolition derby Friday night and the Cruis’n and Cook’n car show Saturday morning.

“The demo derby was packed,” Linton said, following a post-event conversation with derby organizer Barry Brown. “He said they had even more people than last year.”

The car show also had a turnout of about 200 vehicles, according to event co-organizer Janette Swartz. Organizers were happy with the variety of vehicles and participants. More than 60 awards were given at the event.
Following the car show, many vehicles headed cruised downtown, where classic cars, rat rods and other car show entries lined Market Street in downtown Osage City. As cars cleared out, families moved in for an outdoor movie at the Santa Fe Depot.