MANKATO — Barbecue pros will be working their magic on ribs, pulled pork, chicken and brisket as the first Kansas City Barbecue Society sanctioned competition comes in June.
“You’ll see guys with just a 10-by-10 tent and a Green Egg grill, and you’ll see guys who come in with a semi trailer that drops a big cooking setup down on a lift,” said organizer Nathan Herme.
Herme plans for the Bend of the River CookOut, which will be June 29 at Land of Memories Park, to be an annual affair.
Herme has helped organize an annual amateur cook-off sponsored by Buster’s bar and they decided to up the ante this year.
They are hoping for 30-50 pros who will compete for a total prize payout of $7,500, and there will be an amateur cook-off, which drew about 30 teams last year.
The Kansas City Barbecue Society has strict standards for judging. “They have to use wood or charcoal only, no gas. Before it starts there are meat inspectors who come and check everything over,” Herme said.
The society claims to have the most respected judging standards in the world.
Judges will mingle with the pros watching them cook and ultimately judge them on three criteria: taste, appearance and texture.
Local residents who want to become a sanctioned judge can take a class on April 27 at DeGroods. The training is limited to the first 24 who register.
For those interested in entering the pro competition, registration is $275 per team with a May 15 early-bird fee of $225. For more information, visit www.mankatocookout.com.
Herme, who has relatives in the pro circuit, said barbecue events in Minnesota have grown faster than anywhere else in the country. “There were 12 teams in the state that joined the Kansas City Barbecue Society last year and there are 14 professional competitions that happen in Minnesota.”
While the pros only make meat for the competition, the amateurs’ goodies will be for sale with proceeds from food sales and other events going to SNAPS — Special Needs and Public Service.
“This year, we want to raise enough to purchase wheelchair swings for all the parks. Kids can lock their chair onto the swing and be elevated,” Herme said. The chairs cost abut $1,300 each.
Herme is hoping to top the $17,000 raised for SNAPS at last year’s event.
There will be a host of other events at Land of Memories, including a 5K fun run, a disc golf tournament and bean-bag toss competition.
Admission is $10, which includes tickets for 10 samples, with tickets for more samples available for purchase.