OCONTO - - God seemed to be smiling on the Oconto Volunteer Fire Department Saturday by providing picture perfect weather for the annual Blowin’ the Doors Off BBQ. And plenty of people took advantage of that nice weather to enjoy some great food, live entertainment and a good time with family and friends.
The population of Oconto increased by roughly 12.11 times Saturday night, with a total estimated attendance of 1,829. Oconto’s current population, according to the 2010 census, stands at 151.
The attendance figures broke down as follows:
Adults (age 12 and up) - 1,689
Children (5-11 years) - 140
Ten grill master teams competed in seven different categories; specialty, pork loin, pulled pork, baked beans, pork ribs, sauce and beef brisket. For the fourth year in a row, Behr BQ Catering of Ravenna was crowned Grand Champion.
“This event has proven to be a wonderful fundraiser for
the Oconto VFD with funding used to support firefighting and EMS service in the Oconto Rural Fire District,” says Brett Eggleston, one of the organizers of the event. “Preparations are already underway for next year's BBQ as we look forward to a growing crowd, fantastic food and great entertainment.”
The fundraiser began 10 years ago, after a Halloween night tornado devastated the main street and much of the town of Oconto. The community was left to rebuild, as well as replace much of its fire and emergency equipment which had been destroyed in the storm.
The firemen got together and settled on the idea of hosting a barbecue that summer to help raise funds to help defray some of those costs. They could not at the time have foreseen the success the next decade would bring for the event.
Many of the same teams return year after year, mainly because it is just so much fun they say. One of those teams is DeBruce Grain of Lexington, who this year fondly called themselves ‘Dill Pickle Smokers.’ This is the third year the team has entered the competition, which this year included team members from several towns in Nebraska, as well as Texas and Indiana, and Kansas.
“It’s just a good time, and a chance to come up and hang out with the guys,” says Nathan Jacobs of Abilene, Kansas, one of the team cookers.
Organizers called this year’s event a huge success.
“The Oconto Volunteer Fire Department would like to thank the cookers, judges, entertainers and volunteers who donated their time and expertise to make this event successful,” said Eggleston.