Pork in the Park returns with a twist … and more!
7th Annual Pork in the Park & More is Sept. 18
TINA L. SCOTT
The “7th Annual Pork in the Park & More” will be held on Saturday, Sept. 18, at the Merrill Festival Grounds, after a hiatus in 2020 due to COVID.
This year, the event has been re-engineered a bit, according to organizers on the Merrill Chamber’s Pork in the Park Committee, to accommodate 2021 challenges.
“In the past, Pork in the Park was a competition with many area rib cookers vying for the title of Best Ribs in Town and winning prize money by way of popular votes from the attendees,” a member of the Committee said. “… This year many of our cookers are struggling to run their own businesses with a severe lack of help, or they have been rescheduled at other events around the area serving their clients …”
After some brainstorming, the Committee came up with a new way to move forward with the event, with a twist and a little help from Geiss Meat Service and other area non-profits.
“We will still be serving over 1,000 pounds of St. Louis Style pork ribs,” organizers said, “But all the ribs will be cooked locally by Geiss Meat Service. Andy Geiss and his staff will smoke and prepare all the ribs the day of the event.”
“Geiss is cooking the ribs. Wisconsin River Pro Rodeo is doing beef brisket, hot turkey, and ribbon fries. Merrill Youth Hockey is doing the beverages. Girl Scouts have the corn on the cob, and St. Stephens UCC is doing sweets like pies and bars,” the Merrill Chamber of Commerce confirms. And … “If you missed out on Optimist Cheese Curds at the Fair, they will be open and selling at our event.”
Ribs will be sold by the bone; other items will be sold individually, they said.
Beer and liquor will also be available on site, a Committee member added.
There will be plenty to eat and drink under the grandstands. The food sales will start at 11:00 a.m. and run until 3:00 p.m. or until the food is gone.
A whole lot more than great food!
The Merrill Festival Grounds, with entrances into the grounds from East Sixth Street, Sales Street, or Memorial Drive, will have lots of activities to draw a crowd that day. There is no fee for parking and no admission fee to get into Pork in the Park.
“There is a lot more to see and do than just the mouth watering ribs,” organizers say. Crafters and vendors will be on the grounds with handcrafts and other items for sale. Plus Merrill Riders and a Gun Show round out “something for everybody.”
Merrill Riders Club event
The Merrill Riders Club will end their season in the Grandstand Arena with the Merrill Riders’ Pork in the Park Day Show. It will be an all-day event, open to Merrill Riders Club members and anyone else who wants to enter the competition. “Riders from anywhere” and “riders of all ages and experience levels” are welcome to compete, organizers say. Warm ups will begin at 8:00 a.m., and the show starts at 10:30 a.m.
“We will be having 4-D barrels with $250 added money if we get at least 50 riders in the class,” an event organizer from the Merrill Riders Club said. “Riders can also ride in the age category classes for our Pork and the Park Day Championship.”
In addition, “We will also have many open fun classes,” she said.
And, “As always, it’s a free event to watch, so come check us out!”
The Merrill Riders Club will also offer horse rides to the public around 12:00 noon or a bit after for $5.00 per person. So even if they aren’t competing, attendees will have an opportunity for a short ride.
Gun show Friday and Saturday, too
The 53rd Annual Fall Gun Show organized by the North Central Wisconsin Gun Collectors Association will be held at the Merrill Enrichment/Expo Center on Friday, September 17, from 3:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. and also on Saturday, September 18, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. If you’re into guns for hunting or a hobby, this is a great opportunity to see what they have to offer. Admission is $5.00, but youth under 14 are free with a paying adult.
“Take advantage of the history of firearms displayed, both military and civilian, that have been used by men and women in this great country,” said Fred Yulga, one of the event organizers. “We are the only country in the world that has established the Right to Keep and Bear Arms in a Constitution. There are firearms, ammo, and knives and other sporting equipment that are for sale or trade, but more than that there are stories behind many of those items. Be curious. Learn. Ask questions. You never know, it might be the beginning of a good relationship with firearm.”
End of summer fundraising
“Pork in the Park & More is one of the larger fundraiser events of the year for the Merrill Area Chamber of Commerce, so we encourage the community to come out and have a great lunch and enjoy the events going on that day,” organizers said.
Pork in the Park & More is also a great opportunity for fun and fundraising for other Merrill organizations, who may not have had a chance to do much fundraising last year either, and a great way to end the summer.
This will truly be a “Family Fun day down at the Merrill Festival Grounds,” the Chamber said. “We have entertainment, food, shopping, and the Gun Show all in one location.”