Thousands attended the North Iowa Up In Smoke BBQ Bash and Competition on Friday night. (Arian Schuessler/The Globe Gazette)

MASON CITY - Crowds flocked to the 10th annual Up In Smoke BBQ Bash in East Park Friday night to enjoy the food, music and other activities.

Sarah Humburg said she and her son, Tony, both of Mason City, come to the Bash every year.

Sarah said they usually chat with other people there to see which vendors have the best food before they get in line.

Tony, who has been substitute teaching in Mason City schools, is going to be teaching in the Glidden-Ralston schools beginning this fall.

However, “I will probably come back every year for this as long as I’m not too far away,” he said.

Denny Van Hauen, of Charles City, was at the Bash with his daughter, Shantel, 14.

Shantel was eating pork nachos — smoked pork and cheese piled on top of tortilla chips — while Denny was eating ribs.

Denny said they decided to come because they heard the food was good, they had never experienced it before and they knew some of the competitors.

Mike Klein, of Mason City, and his son, Braydon, 14, sat in a quiet, scenic spot by the river to eat.

Braydon said he likes the food “and the location.”

Tom Heller, of Mason City, brought his three children with him to the Bash. “It’s a tradition,” he said. They live near East Park, so “it’s right in our backyard,” he said.

“One of these days we are going to enter” the contest, Heller said.

A few of the 65 teams in the BBQ competition started setting up shop Thursday night, while the rest arrived during the day Friday.

Some teams participated in the annual Chili Cook-off or the first-ever SPAM Cook-off Friday evening. The main competition is Saturday.

Mark Haxton, of Clear Lake, a member of the Farmboy BBQ team, said they go to about five competitions each year, but the organizers of Up In Smoke “put on pretty much the best BBQ show” with the the beer garden, the live music and the East Park location, which is a good place to bring kids.

“We love this contest,” said Gregg Nielsen, of Lake Elmo, Minn., a member of the Big Time BBQ Buddies team. He said it is well-run and in a great location.

Mike and Christine Peters from the Kansas City Barbecue Society’s Great American BBQ Tour were giving a cooking demonstration and distributing free samples of smoked pork loin and ribs, as well as Reser’s macaroni salad and potato salad.

“Who likes ribs falling off the bone?” Mike asked.

“I do!” said several people in the crowd.

Mike said if the meat is falling off the bone, it’s actually overcooked. Instead, the meat should bite clean off the bone.

He said if you have to gnaw the meat off the bone, the ribs are undercooked.

Bob Powell, of Clear Lake, was one of those watching cooking demonstration.

“I’m just a beginner trying to learn,” he said. “I kind of would like to learn how to cook baby back ribs.”

Butch Anderson, of Mason City, who also was watching the cooking demonstration, said he does some barbecuing at home and particularly enjoys cooking ribs and pork loins.

Anderson said he likes the Bash for “just the entertainment and the social part of it.”


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