The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

March 15, 2013

New barbecue competition coming to Mankato in June

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

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.”

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