Smokin’ hot in Manson

MANSON – Mingling with the music and sunshine washing over the family events during Manson Greater Crater Days on Saturday afternoon was the aroma of roasting pork.

More than a half of a dozen teams stoked their barbecues and fired up their smokers for the Calhoun County community’s Rib Cookoff. Stationed under tents and armed with spices and rubs, the entrants set their ribs to cooking while children were bouncing and sliding on the nearby inflatables and snagging the opposing team’s flag in staged water fights.

This year was the third time Charlie Larson and his sons brought their barbecue rig over to take part in the cookoff. The Crater Days competition is a favorite for him, he said.

“It’s fun just to get and barbecue with the family,” Larson said. “We usually do four or five competitions a year, but this one is great. Being from Storm Lake, it’s fairly close for us and my sons can go check out the inflatables or try their luck at the games.”

First-timer Scott Kehrberg, from Fort Dodge, was impressed with the cookoff, as well.

“We had been experimenting with cooking pork ribs at home and when we saw the Crater Days competition we thought we would give it a shot. This one is great because you only cook one meat rather than jumping in and doing four meats.”

While the cookoff was open to individuals or groups, Kehrberg said the best tip he can offer future competitors is to assemble a support team, such as his “All Pigs Go to Heaven” group. Between prep work, monitoring temperature and keeping the fires going, a single individual could easily be overwhelmed.

“You can’t do it by yourself,” he said. “You have to have a good team.”

Also, Kehrberg said, if you tried to do it on your own, you wouldn’t get to experience the rest of the events at Greater Crater Days, such as taking a turn in the spelling bee, splashing around in the bathtub races and cooling off at the firemen’s water fights.

“All in all, it’s been quite the learning experience,” Kehrberg said. “Our neighbors have been really friendly. Most come out here with the attitude that ‘hey, it’s a good day of cooking meat.’ And if a prize is awarded at the end of the day, OK, but if not, you still spent a good day cooking ribs.”