Miss this weekend in North Iowa?

When pigs fly!

That’s because pigs and flying have a lot to do with one of the most jam-packed weekends of the summer calendar.

There’ll be plenty of pigs in East Park this weekend — not on four hooves but in smokers as barbecue chefs whip up some great smoked pulled pork, ribs and other delights, all to the delight of hungry North Iowans attending the Up In Smoke BBQ Bash.

It starts at 5 p.m. today when vendors start selling food. At 6, the fabulous Spam contest starts as chefs turn the famous canned meat into spectacular dishes.

At 7, the great Des Moines-based cover band Standing Hampton returns to the Bash, playing hits from the 1970s and ’80s. We featured them in Thursday’s Preview section, and they’re eager to come back to entertain the Bash crowds and enjoy some great barbecue.

At some point overnight Friday, the barbecue teams — there are more than 50 registered — get down to the business of preparing their special meats for the Up In Smoke competition sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbeque Society. Competing in categories featuring ribs, brisket, chicken and more, they’ll try to impress judges to win cash prizes and points in the KCBS standings. You know it’s important when they all gather ‘round Saturday afternoon to hear results of the judging.

But things heat up before that with live music by the Tree Town All-Stars at 11 a.m. and rock music by Bolder Road starting at 2 and running through 6. And, of course, there will be plenty of food prepared by vendors to feed the hungry crowd again Saturday. And they’ll need it, as North Iowans wait all year for this special menu that’s hard to match anywhere.

It’s as one vendor amazed at the big crowd and long lines told us: “Don’t these people eat all year long?” That’s just how good the food is; ditto for the music and all the other activities that make up the Up In Smoke BBQ Bash.

There’s much more to do around North Iowa, of course.

There’s a tripleheader of fun and music at Clear Lake’s City Park with the DixieFest, Art Sail and Iowa Storytelling Festival, all highlighted by special guests.

For example the Storytelling Festival will feature three top storytellers who certainly know how to spin a yarn. And the DixieFest will feature bands with some great names to match their great music, special guests the Barbary Coast Dixieland Band, Party Gras Classic Jazz Band, the Barehanded Wolfchokers and our own Raiders of the Lost Art, who will be the host band. And the Art Sail will feature glass blower Art Ciccotti of Ames along with other talented artists and crafts specialists.

Clear Lake kicks off the weekend tonight with an appearance by Sir Mix A Lot, a noted rapper and hip-hop artist, at the Surf Ballroom. Again, the Surf goes outside the musical box to present varied acts, for which North Iowa music fans can be appreciative.

Now, about flying. For the first time in years an air show returns to the Mason City Municipal Airport. Fly Iowa 2015 will be Saturday and Sunday with special shows and the opportunity to ride in historic aircraft.

“Our acts include some of the biggest names in the airshow industry today,” said Adam Glowaski, Fly Iowa chairman.

Count us among those excited for the return of an air show.

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Among other highlights:

• Moonlight Movies begin Saturday night in Mason City’s East Park starting at dusk.

• Crosswind will play for Friday Night Out in Osage.

• Stacyville celebrates its annual Bratwurst Daze Saturday.

We’re excited about bringing you the Up In Smoke BBQ Bash, just as we know these other communities are excited about their special attractions, too. And why not? It helps make summer in North Iowa very special.

We’ll see you out and about!

— For more on these and other events, see our Local Entertainment section at www.globegazette.com.

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