By: Anastasia Penchi

It’s the event you can find by following your nose.

The La Crosse Valley View Rotary and the Holmen Area Rotary Clubs will host the 3rd annual Rotary Rock-n-Ribs BBQ on June 23 and 24 at the La Crosse Oktoberfest Grounds.

A $5 entry fee for those 17 and older includes some BBQ tastings, musical entertainment and access to food vendors like Big Boar BBQ, Mr. Tony’s BBQ, Ole’s Pizza, Pop’s Kettle Corn and Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream Company.

Does smoky meat get your taste buds salivating? Is a massage the last thing on your mind when you hear people talking about great rubs? If so, here are some things to keep in mind:

It’s all about the pig.

The public is invited to taste and judge the Pulled Pork Competition as part of a non-profit fund-raiser, and some will also help judge the Big Green Egg VIP Rib Competition (but admission to this event is limited). Do you like your pulled pork sweet? Maybe you prefer a savory sauce? Vote for your favorite pulled pork recipe by slipping some money in the bucket for the non-profit team responsible for the piggy goodness you prefer. The 20 participating non-profits get to keep the bucket money afterwards so they can to do more good in the community. You get to feel good about doing good, and as a bonus, you get happy taste buds and happy tummy.

Kid chefs abound.

The Kids Q Competition is perfect for that future chef in your life. The youngest participants are responsible for grilling hamburgers (ages seven to 10), and the older ones (ages 11 to 15) will be grilling steaks and serving them with their preferred garnishments. One adult is allowed to assist, but this doesn’t mean the adult is in charge – the kids are. First place earns $75 and a title with the word, “master” in it. Parents decide if the winners must pick up additional cooking chores at home to offset any ego growth that might come with that title. Personally, I love any competition that encourages kids to cook. Could someone please just come up with a Kid Dish Washing Competition next? We can hold it at my house.

Backyard grillers welcome.

Are you the king of legs and wings in your neighborhood? Or maybe you have to kick your husband off the grill to ensure your steak is really medium rare and doesn’t come back into the house looking like a hockey puck? Why not enter the Backyard Competition so you can take home your own official title? Then, no one will be able to question your methods – just remind them of your grilling greatness. Fancy equipment is not needed to compete at this level of competition, and you can secretly (or not so secretly) stalk the professionals for tips. Maybe there are two people in your neighborhood who are always trying to out-grill each other? Let the Steak Cookoff Association judges decide who is better. Smoke them if you’ve got them.

Become a pork professional.

This year marks the first time this event is considered a professional, fully-sanctioned contest by the Kansas City Barbeque Society. It is also an official State Championship Competition, and the winner gets invited to the American Royal Invitational and Jack Daniels draw. This is a big deal. BBQ competitions are serious business. There are websites devoted to those who obsess over pork preparation. Some sell four-needle pressurized power injectors so you can inject your secret sauce into the whole hog at once. Then there is wood chip preference for smoking purposes. Some like apple chips, while others prefer pecan, peach, cherry, oak or hickory. Choose your preparation carefully. Bobby Flay throwdown – here we come.

We’re Not Going to Take It.

Pull out the Aqua Net hair spray and photos from the 1980’s in order to properly prepare for a tribute to the era of big hair. Hairball is a very accurate homage to all the rock bands of that era and the big arena shows they put on. Are you sad that your parents didn’t let you attend rock concerts back then? Pretend they did while you watch Hairball’s version of the big names of that era like Van Halen, KISS, Motley Crue, Queen, Journey and Aerosmith. The Hairball stage becomes an entirely new rock concert many times through the night, and even includes the mandatory props of that time period like spotlights, videos, smoke, fire, blood, bombs, confetti, spiders and snakes. Let them work to convince you that rock and roll ain’t noise pollution, and that rock and roll will never die.

If you would like to learn how to get an award for your steak and wings, visit the Web site at www.rotaryrocknribs.com.

Anastasia Penchi

Anastasia Penchi

Freelance writer

Anastasia Penchi is graduate of UW-La Crosse and a long-time Coulee Region writer who has written for area newspapers and magazines (www.loislaneforhire.com).