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Jeremy Gaston | Managing Editor

OSAGE CITY—Osage City and contest organizer Corey Linton are set for the 10th anniversary of the Smoke in the Spring State Barbecue competition April 12-13 at Jones Park.

The competition centers on a Kansas City Barbecue Society sanctioned contest, which features top smokers from several states. While the competition offers a chance to meet some of the best cookers around and pick up a few tips, the big pull for much of the public is the chance to eat.

Twenty teams will be cooking in the Taste of Osage City, beginning at 5 p.m. “until the food is gone” on April 12. It’s one of the few ways to access competition barbecue without becoming a judge.

“It’s a showcase of the barbecue teams at the contest,” Linton said. “It’s an opportunity for the public to purchase competition barbecue.”

The selection during the Taste of Osage City ranges from competition favorites, like pulled pork and brisket, to turkey legs, sausages, exotic meats (such as alligator) and bacon-wrapped anything, all at or near restaurant prices.

“Pricewise, it’s comparable,” Linton said. “You’re not paying a lot. It’s mainly samples, not full meals. I like to call it a large outdoor barbecue buffet. Some teams may sell other items, such as rubs and sauces. It’s an opportunity for them to promote themselves for catering and whatever else they have to offer.”

During the Taste of Osage City, food and drinks must be purchased with BBQ Bucks. BBQ Bucks go on sale April 8, and will be available from Edward Jones at 516 Market St. and Osage City Hall at 201 S. Fifth St., both in Osage City.

Ninety percent of proceeds raised go to the team that sold the food, with 10 percent returning to the contest. Linton said the Taste of Osage City brought in around $11,500 in BBQ bucks in 2011, and $12,600 last year.

After cooking for the public, teams will put their best meats on the smoker to begin cooking for the competition, given buffet stragglers a chance to learn from the masters.

“It’s an opportunity to talk with the teams, find out what they do, and if you’re a backyard griller, maybe pick up some tips,” Linton said.

The Taste of Osage City will feature seven teams from Osage County, including six teams from Osage City and one from Melvern. All of the cooking teams are from northeast Kansas and the Kansas City metro area.

“The local teams cook to put themselves out there, as an advertising tool,” Linton said. “It helps defer travel expenses, and general costs. It may be a little more work to cook on Friday, but if you can bring in a couple hundred bucks, that can pay for the entry fee and gas.”

Events continue Friday evening with live music from Backyard Legend, who will be playing 8 p.m. to midnight in the Osage City Parks and Recreation Building. Concessions, including beer and liquor by the drink, will be sold by the Osage City Lions Club during the dance.

The Kids Q will also take place on Friday evening. There are categories for 10-and-under and 11-16, youth must cook on site, and they must be sponsored by a team competition in the barbecue competition.

The contest weekend will also feature the Ninth Annual Cruis’n and Cook’n Car Show, which will be April 13 in downtown Osage City, between Fourth and Sixth streets on Market Street. Registration will be 8 to 11 a.m., with awards at 2:30 p.m.

The Osage City Middle School cheerleaders will serve donuts, breakfast burritos and drinks. The Osage City Band Booster Club will serve a barbecue lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Osage Senior Center.

• For more information on the car show, visit www.cruisnandcookn.com; for more information on the contest, visit www.smokeinthespring.com.