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BBQ in Manawa

Tasty event raises funds for park

By Holly Neumann

Twenty-three teams from across Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan and Illinois, traveled to Bear Lake Resort and Campground in Manawa to take part in the first Kansas City Barbeque Society (KCBS) Great Wisconsin Tune up BBQ Competition held on April 29.

Brenda VanderZanden organized the event. She and her husband Roy have been judging competitions since 2006.

“I knew how much fun this type of event can be and I knew there was money to be made if it was structured well,” she said. “I felt like it was a good match and the barbeque teams are always willing to help out a good charity.”

She was thrilled with the turn out.

“We have some of the best barbeque cooks from four states here,” she said. “It was even more exciting to know we have a competition team from right here in Manawa.”

Among the competitors was Eric Ferguson of Woodstock, Illinois, Tom McIntosh of Sheboygan, Wisconsin and Darren (Dee) Chancellor of Manawa.

Darren Chancellor of Manawa is ready to grill up a feast. Holly Neumann Photo

Chancellor is the newest person to the barbeque scene.

“This is only my third competition and I love it,” he said. “This is so much fun and you could not ask for a better group of people to be around.”

He is even teaching his children to take part.

“My seven year old Anastasia will be doing her first competition next weekend,” Chancellor said. “I hope she learns to enjoy this just as much.”

Ferguson has been barbequing for three years and competes in 25 contests annually.

“It’s nice to just get out and get the win,” he said. “For those just getting started, you just have to go out and do it, you have to give ‘er.”

Tom McIntosh shows off the ribs he was making for the Great Wisconsin Tune up BBQ Competition in Manawa. Holly Neumann Photo

McIntosh is the veteran to barbequing contests.

“I have been doing this since 2011,” he said. “It all got started with the church picnic. I love food and I love sharing food. This is a great way to do it.”

Both he and his wife Becky enjoy what they do.

“This is a family competition,” Becky said. “It’s a friendly competition.”

The couple agrees that they like to support local competitions like this one in Manawa.

“This is a great time to encourage the new teams,” Tom said. “This is a great time to mentor them.”

Though none of them were eager to share their secrets, they all seemed to agree that patience and practice, practice, practice is the key to success.

On competition day, competitors are judged in four categories; Chicken; ribs; pork; and brisket.

A panel of KCBS certified judges then score entries based on KCBS criteria of appearance, taste and tenderness.

“As a judge you have to use your eyes, your nose, your pallet, your fingers to make a decision,” said Tony Moore, KCBS Representative. “It really is an art.”

He went on to say that for Manawa’s first year, the over-all experience has been excellent.

“This has been great,” he said. “Bear Lake has been incredible, the people have been exceptional, the community has been very inviting and they have a great charity that is benefitting from this.”

Tim Schopp of Tim’s Full Belli Deli BBQ Team, who is known as the Godfather of Barbeque, added that once the word gets out, the team attendance will double next year.

VanderZanden agrees.

“It will absolutely happen again next year,” she said. “Our teams were so happy with the facility and competition. Next year we will plan to offer a festival with many opportunities for folks to interact with the teams and experience real-deal BBQ.”

“It’s great that our small town can host an event like this,” she added. “I am so glad that it all came together for such a great cause. Bear Lake Resort and Campground were excellent partners in this project”

Proceeds from the event benefitted the Manawa Area Veterans Freedom Park.

The Kansas City Barbeque Society is the world’s largest organization of barbeque and grilling enthusiasts with over 20,000 members worldwide and is a nonprofit organization.


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