It's time for the Pig 'N Wing Challenge

The Wadena Lions' annual barbecue competition returns to the Wadena County Fairgrounds this Saturday, Aug. 20.

Marshall Hathaway, 3 years old, enjoys some ribs at this year's Pig 'N' Wing Challenge.
Marshall Hathaway, 3 years old, enjoys some ribs at the 2015 Pig 'N' Wing Challenge.
Pioneer Journal file photo

WADENA — Something will be smoking up the air at the Wadena County Fairgrounds this Saturday, Aug. 20 — and that's good news for those who love a good old-fashioned barbecue competition.

The Wadena Lions' Pig 'N Wing Challenge will pit teams of grill masters against each other for the 12th time in 13 years (the 2020 competition was, like so many other events that year, a casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic).

According to event chair Ryan Anderson, the "pig" part of the challenge is barbecued ribs, while the "wing" part is chicken wings. The two categories are judged separately, with first, second and third place winners chosen for each.

"There's also a people's choice," said Anderson. "After all of the ribs and wings are judged, we sell the rest to the public, who get to vote for their favorites."

The Lions will also be serving up hand-cut French fries and corn on the cob, starting at 2 p.m., though the ribs and wings won't be available to the public until after the competition concludes at 5 p.m.


Tickets are $1.50 each; you get two chicken wings or one rib bone per ticket, while the corn is one ticket per cob and french fries cost two tickets.

The Wadena Ag Society will have their beer garden open throughout the event as well, with proceeds to benefit the annual county fair.

"We also have a car show that happens from 2 to 6 p.m.," Anderson said. "There's no fee to enter; registration is on site."

Just like the barbecue competition, the car show will have first, second and third place prizes, Anderson added, and spectators can also vote on their favorite cars.

"We try to present the awards around 6 p.m., though it sometimes ends up being a little later, or a little earlier," he said. "Everything's usually wrapped up by 7 p.m. at the latest."

Though they always hope for good weather, the event is held rain or shine, Anderson said, with all proceeds going to support local Lions projects. "It all goes right back into the Wadena community," he added.

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