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Smokin' good time at Pig & Wing Challenge

Darren Glynn peels back the aluminum foil from a slab of ribs Saturday at the Wadena Lion's Pig & Wing Challenge at the Wadena County Fairgrounds. Michael Johnson/Pioneer Journal

Maybe it was the smoke from the wildfires, maybe the high humidity and temperatures, whatever it was, elements combined for one tasty Saturday at the ninth annual Pig & Wing Challenge at the Wadena County Fairgrounds.

The event put on by the Wadena Lion's Club featured teams competing for the top ribs or chicken wings. With temperatures near 90 degrees, a ring of bbq grills, boilers and smokers, it was a steamy gathering only cooled by the liquids pouring from the concessions area.

The event brought out a variety of competitors from the region including local rib fans, the Smokaholics, including Tony and Shelly Kassa of Bluffton. While each team is provided with the cuts of meat by the Wadena Lions, each team had a different way of cooking their meat to perfection.

Tony was busily watching the grill he built from a 250-gallon propane tank and an 80-gallon air compressor tank as the smoker attachment. The barbecue setup allowed for a reverse flow heating system that evenly cooked and smoked the contents. The end result was a rib with nice coloring, flavoring and scent. It was the groups fourth appearance at the competition.

Once fully cooked, it was up to his partner Kenny Rosen to cut each riblet and select the three for presentation.

While it looked perfect, it was still up to the taste of the judges to make the call. The team said they'd love to say what makes for an award winning rib, but the best they had done up until Saturday was fourth place finish just shy of an award. However, Saturday, they took home the people's choice award.

Across the grassy lot was In-Tents Griller of Otter Tail. At the helm of the grill was Bertha-Hewitt principal Darren Glynn.

"Some guys fish, some camp, but I do cooking contests," Glynn said looking over rows of slathered up ribs in his team's grill.

Glynn said he competes in four area competitions including Wadena, Perham, Detroit Lakes and Nevis. He said while he can cook the ribs to perfection, he relies on his wife for creating a nice presentation. The meat is typically displayed on a bed of greens with garnishing.

While the competition can depend heavily on taste, presenting a fine looking cut of meat, with uniform placement is not to be overlooked, competitors say.

The event welcomed out big crowds to eat hand-made fries and corn on the cob by the Lions along with beverages provided by the Wadena County Fair board and a car show, which brought out a dozen classic cars.


Pig & Wing results

Here's how the competitors faired at this year's event.


1st place - Clay That Funky Music

2nd place - Got Er Smokin'

3rd place - Bully BBQ

People's Choice - Smokaholics


1st place - Bully BBQ

2nd place - Clay That Funky Music

3rd place - In-Tents Grillers

People's Choice - Up In Smoke

Car Show

1st place - Dorothy Beyer, 1966 Mustang

2nd place - Dale Robinson, 1971 Chevelle