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Barbeque Society circuit returns to Austin

Go & do

Who: More than 60 barbecue teams from eight states.

What: Minnesota in May state barbecue championship hosted by the Minnesota Barbeque Society.

Where: Mower County Fairgrounds, 700 12th St. S.W., Austin.

When: 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. today and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.

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Why: Free admission. Vendors and a beer garden will be there both days, with live music on Friday only at 7 p.m. Grand champion gets $2,000 and trip to major barbecue contest in Kansas City.

By Tim Ruzek

truzek@postbulletin.com

Spread out across the fairgrounds, more than 60 teams of barbecue cooks are gathering in Austin today and Saturday for heated competition over hot charcoal and wood.

Many teams follow a summer circuit of competitions throughout the nation, creating a family-like feeling among them, said Mark Born, president of Minnesota Barbeque Society.

"It’s kind of like a community," said Born, who is from Welch, Minn., and competes in 18 to 20 barbecue competitions a year.

The contests, though, are very competitive, he said.

About 62 barbecue teams from eight states are expected to set up today at the fairgrounds to begin cooking chicken, ribs, pork and beef brisket for the Minnesota in May state barbecue championship Saturday afternoon.

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"They’re cooking all night long," Born said. The teams can’t use gas to cook.

Minnesota in May is one of two state barbecue championships in the state.

Starting at 3 p.m. today, five vendors — three for barbecue, including Austin’s Piggy Blues restaurant, and two offering ice cream and funnel cakes — opened for business.

The vendors and beer garden at the grandstand will run until 11 p.m. today, with live music starting around 5 p.m.

On Saturday, the vendors will operate from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Starting at noon, people can observe the barbecue teams and about 70 judges at work in the Plager Building.

Chicken entries will be first, followed by a new category every 30 minutes in the order of ribs, pork and beef brisket.

The overall winner will get $2,000 and an entry into a major barbecue contest in Kansas City. Teams also can earn $750 for winning one of the four categories.

There also will be separate paid-entry contests for dessert and "anything butt," which is anything except for chicken, pork ribs, pork butt/shoulder, beef brisket or dessert.

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Last year, Minnesota in May drew 57 teams to Austin, an increase of about 20 teams from prior years when the city of Cambridge hosted the competition.

"I’m sure it’ll continue to grow," Born said.

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