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From staff reports

OSAGE CITY—It’s like an ancient spring ritual: Wood is gathered, fires are lit, meat is placed in the smoke. Unable to resist the wafting smells, natives begin the feast.

Friday in Osage City, the rites signal the beginning of the ninth annual Smoke In The Spring state championship barbecue contest. The weekend event promis es fun for everyone, including cooks and judges, automobile enthusiasts 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 several states.

Corey Linton, Osage City Parks and Recreation director and contest organizer, reported that applications have been accepted from 84 barbecue teams, the maximum number of teams that can be accommodated at the park.

“This is the third year we have filled up,” Linton said Monday. “We are very pleased with this fact.”

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, 2011 83 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 at 5 p.m. 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” have begun, and the scrip money can be exchanged for barbecued foods offered by the participating teams in the designated area of Jones Park. Teams choose what they cook and offer to the public, but those who partake are sure to taste some of the finest barbecue available.

“This year all teams serving food Friday night will be in the gravel parking lot,” Linton said.

He said Friday night cooks were congregated in the same area so it would be easier for people to partake in the offerings.

“Food will be available until it runs out,” Linton said.

BBQ Bucks are available until 5 p.m. April 6 at Edward Jones, 516 Market St., and Osage City Hall, 201 S. Fifth St.; BBQ Bucks will also be sold 4-7 p.m. at the recreation building in Jones Park. Organizers note the scrip money does not expire, so any unused BBQ Bucks can be redeemed next year.

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. Signup deadline for the Kids Q is 5 p.m. April 6 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.

Friday’s events will be highlighted with live entertainment. Performing in the OCPR building will be Backyard Legend, a band that delivers a mix of classic rock and 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.

At 9 a.m. April 7 will be the 5K for schools. Registration will be 8 a.m. at Osage City Elementary School parking lot. A fee will be charged. For more information, contact Chandra Dunbar at (785) 528-3990 or Angie Theel at (785) 528-3520.

The Osage City Band Booster Club will serve pulled pork, sides and drinks from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday in the community building.

Saturday will also feature a car show hosted by the Twin Lakes Cruisers, at the Jones Park track. Registration begins at 8 a.m. and show will last until the 2:30 p.m. awards presentation. All makes and models are welcomed. A new feature of the car show is Hot Wheels races at 1 p.m. For information about the car show, contact Richard Swarts at (785) 528-3667, or Dustin Hokanson at (785) 220-2777.

A schedule of the weekend’s events is 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 visit www.smokeinthespring.com