People from all over country compete at Big Island Bar-B-Que

Published 10:27 am Sunday, August 28, 2016

ALBERT LEA — Entrants from different states competed Friday and Saturday at the Freeborn County Fairgrounds during the ninth annual Big Island Bar-B-Que.

The event featured a state barbecue, steak and chili contest, and public chili and appetizer tasting.

Founder and coordinator Perry Vining said the competition had entrants from as far away as Louisiana and Texas.

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He said 48 teams cooked steak, and 47 cooked for the barbecue contest.

Approximately $15,000 in awards were planned to be given, Vining said, and handmade trophies from Albert Lea artists were presented.

Randy Robinet of Kansas City competes Friday in the Big Island Bar-B-Que at the Freeborn County Fairgrounds. Sam Wilmes/

Randy Robinet of Kansas City competes Friday in the Big Island Bar-B-Que at the Freeborn County Fairgrounds. Sam Wilmes/

“That’s pretty special,” Vining said.

Awards were given in chicken, brisket, ribs, pork, dessert, sausage, chili, steaks, appetizers and margarita categories.

Watertown residents and professional barbecuers Gary Harding and Matt Guetzkow said they attended the Kansas City Barbecue Society-sanctioned event to compete.

“It’s what we do almost every weekend,” Harding said.

Harding and Guetzkow entered chicken, ribs, pulled pork, brisket and steak to the competition.

“We’re here to compete,” Harding said.

He said though he will help fellow entrants, he still wants to win.

“We’re all friends, we all help each other, but we are here to beat them,” he said.

Faribault resident Brian Montanye entered brisket, chicken, ribs and pork butts with his wife, Wendy, their daughter, Sarah, and their son, Chris.

“It’s a family thing,” Wendy Montanye said. “We do it as a family.”

“I like the competition part,” her husband said.

The family averages 10 to 12 barbecue competitions a year that take up a majority of their weekends during the summer months.

Brian Montanye said competing against the top barbecue cooks in the world motivates him to try to win.

“That’s bragging rights there,” he said.

He said other entrants are friendly, even to people who bested them in competition.

“It’s a good extended family,” Montanye said.

Kansas City, Missouri, resident Randy Robinett said Friday that he was alerted by another entrant from Kansas City about how good of an event the Big Island Bar-B-Que is.

“The weather is outstanding, the people are friendly,” Robinett said Friday evening. “I’ll know more about it after 5 p.m. tomorrow when the judges get ahold of our meat.”

The event was a fundraiser for Education Days at Big Island Rendezvous Sept. 29 and 30.

Barbecue food vendors and other drinks were also available throughout the weekend, and entertainment was provided.


About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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