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home : news : news June 28, 2016

9/28/2012 5:01:00 AM
Where's the beef? Right here in Minocqua this weekend
May the beef be with you
Beef-A-Rama judging procedures changed

An attempt to streamline process 

By Brian Jopek

of The Lakeland Times

For years, all roasters participating in Minocqua’s Beef-A-Rama, with that number anywhere from 60 to 70, were judged by five judges.

Beth Wetzler, of the Minocqua Area Chamber of Commerce, said that tended to take quite some time. 

“We would have five judges that would go up one side of the street and then down the other and taste all 60 to 70 roasts,” she said. “That became a lot to ask of our judges.”

After 20 roasts, she said, you stop tasting and it just got to be difficult for judges. It was also very time consuming.

“When you are scheduling five judges  to taste 60 roasts, you have to start judging at nine in the morning in order to get them all finished by 2:30 for the parade,” she said. 

“That was a lot to ask of someone to cook a 20-pound roast and have it ready by nine o’clock in the morning.”

This year, the chamber is going to try something to not only make the judges’ jobs easier, but the roasters job as well.

For the 2012 Beef-A-Rama, Wetzler said the roasters have been placed in three divisions and there will be a set of three judges for each division.

“Each set of judges will only be judging between 12 and 20 roasters,” she said.

The first of the three divisions, Wetzler said, is called the Rare Division.

“These are the folks who have never done this before,” she said. 

There are 12 entries in this division.

The Seasoned Division is for roasters who have been competing in the event between one and nine years, while the final division, the Well Done Division, is for those who have been competing for 10 or more years.

Wetzler said there are a total of 54 entries in all three divisions for this year’s Beef-A-Rama.

The changes in procedure this year is based on feedback from a variety of sources, including roasters themselves.

“When we thought we might have a pretty good idea, we went to some of the veteran roasters and asked them if they would be disappointed if they weren’t being judged against all the other entries,” she said. 

What it came down to for those roasters, Wetzler said, wasn’t the judging of the beef but the bigger picture for the Minocqua area.

“It’s a way to say thank you to the community and its visitors,” she said.

Brian Jopek may be reached at bjopek@lakelandtimes.com.


2012 Beef-A-Rama judges

Rare Division

• Steve Peterson, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

• Jim Bouché, LUHS principal.

• Lex Gray, WJFW Newswatch 12


Seasoned Division

• Mike Michalak, WMQA radio

• Billy Fried, Minocqua Town Board

• Rick Mazurczak, Lake Tomahawk town chairman


Well Done Division

• Kim Albano, Woodruff town clerk

• Chris Domack

• Gail Rueckl

Sarah Hirsch
Features editor

This last weekend of September means beef, beef and more beef. 

The 48th annual Beef-A-Rama will be held tonight, Friday, Sept. 28, and all day tomorrow, Saturday, Sept. 29. 

“Beef-A-Rama has been going on for almost 50 years and it’s a way to say thank you not only to the tourists and second home owners, but also to all our businesses – all the people we work with every day,” Randy Gilson, Beef-A-Rama volunteer, said.

And there’s something in store for all ages over the weekend. 

Friday, Sept 28, kicks off Beef-A-Rama with a street dance featuring the Jack Squat Band from 6-10 p.m. Presented by Belle Isle, the street dance will be held near the intersection of Front Street and Veterans Park, downtown Minocqua. 

The beef weekend continues Saturday morning with the Lakeland Rotary’s Rump Roast Run. Both the 5K and 10K courses start just north of the Minocqua Veterans Park and lead to the Bearskin Trail. The 5K runners and walkers will cross the old trestle to reach the finish line while the 10K participants will head farther down the Bearskin Trail before turning back to the trestle and the finish line. 

There will also be a one-mile race – the Calf Mile – for children, which will begin at 8:15 a.m., and the 5K and 10K both start at 9 a.m.

An awards ceremony will be held after the races, with plaques for the winners and a 16- to 18-pound beef roast for the top male and female finishers in the 5K and 10K. 

The online registration deadline was yesterday, so if you’re registering today or tomorrow, it must be completed in person with an increase by $2 in each race category. 


Beef-A-Rama music

There’s going to be both headliner and local bands performing at the 48th annual Beef-A-Rama. After listening to recommendations, organizers decided on Oil Can Harry as the main evening act.

“We wanted a headliner act that would really draw folks up here, so we started asking for suggestions ... and a lot of people were talking about Oil Can Harry,” Beth Wetzler, Minocqua Area Chamber of Commerce events and community coordinator, said. “They’re very popular in Milwaukee and they play cover music – something that everyone will like.”

And the band has a connection to the Northwoods. 

“They were just delighted to come up to Minocqua because one of the guys has a cottage in Tomahawk and is really familiary with Minocqua,” Wetzler said.

Over the Fourth of July, the lead singer of the group came to check out Torpy Park and their potential stage.

“I was a little worried that the venue was too small,” Wetzler said. “But once they saw the park and how nice it is they were all excited about it. Even though it’s a little band pavilion it’s a really nice place to play, right by the lake.”

Oil Can Harry is scheduled to perform Saturday, 4-8 p.m., in Torpy Park. 

Though having a headliner band was important to the chamber, Wetzler wanted an afternoon band to play 11 a.m.-2 p.m. as well and decided on the Lincoln Family Band.

“I heard them play at Black Bear last summer for their bluegrass festival, and I liked the idea that they’re local but don’t play together a lot,” Wetzler said. “I just thought it would be good afternoon music and I like to have local folks, but maybe not something people get to hear all the time.”

And Wetzler found the “perfect person” to play in the morning, 9-11 a.m. – Nate Stiegler.

“He is just my perfect person because he’s an artisan crafter,” Wetzler said. “I like to have him play when he can at our craft festivals, and I thought in the morning you don’t need a loud rock/jazz band, but it’s nice to have some music going.”

And the Rotary Club beer garden will also feature two popular musical acts and stay open until 8 p.m.

Northwoods legend Tuck Pence will be playing from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., followed by the Hodag Fest award-winning band “Whitehouse Players” from 4-8 p.m.

“We are so fortunate that we were able to secure these two superb acts. We are hoping this draws even more people into town to enjoy the fun of Beef-A-Rama,” Weston said.


Changes in the event

One of the most notable changes this year is that downtown will be closed off to traffic – beef lovers are free to mill about the street.

“We’re gearing up for [the 50th annual event] in two years,” Wetzler said. “We’re thinking of different things we want to do and one of the things I really want to have perfected by the time of the 50th year is the road closure to make sure it runs smoothly.”

“People can walk the streets and with no traffic to compete with, and they should have a really nice time doing that,” Wetzler said.

And there’s plenty to do all up and down the main drag, Wetzler added.

“Redman Realty is doing some kids activities and there’s kids activities in Veterans Park and in Torpy Park. Packerland is having the Marvins play music in front of [the store], and Twisted Widdlin’ Fool is doing some chain saw demonstrations,” she said.

And, for the first time, the UW-Madison marching band will be leading the parade of beef.

“It’s just really exciting to have them come here for Beef-A-Rama,” Kim Baltus, Minocqua Chamber of Commerce executive director, said. “They do songs like the ‘Beer Barrel Polka,’ ‘Tequila’ and ‘Hey Baby.”

Another change for the event is when the beef sandwiches will be served, and that’s where the Rotary Club stepped in. 

Four years ago, the club launched the Rotary “Beer Garden” on Chicago Street in downtown Minocqua after the race. This year for the first time, they are working with the Minocqua chamber to bring the famous Beef-A-Rama beef sandwiches to the beer garden.

“The lines at Torpy Park for beef sandwiches are notoriously long,” Steve Weston, Rotary volunteer, said. “Being able to offer sandwiches at this end of town is great news for the downtown merchants as it will help increase walk-by traffic as people move between the Torpy Park and Chicago Street venues.” 

Beef sandwiches will be available starting at noon, he said.


Beef-A-Rama schedule

The following is the complete schedule of events for Beef-A-Rama weekend:


Friday, Sept. 28

Street dance with Jack Squat Band: 6-10 p.m., presented by Belle Isle, held on Front Street and Veterans Park, west of Oneida Street in downtown Minocqua.


Saturday, Sept. 29

Calf Mile: 8:15 a.m., one mile race for children. If not already registered by Friday, it must be done in person at the event for $14. 

Lakeland Rotary’s Rump Roast Run: 9 a.m. Both the 5K and 10K courses start just north of the Minocqua Veterans Park and lead to the Bearskin Trail. An awards ceremony will be held after the races. 

If not already registered by Friday, you may register in person at the event for an additional $2 in all race categories. 

Live music by Nate Stiegler: 9-11 a.m., Torpy Park. 

Prime Choice Craft Fair: 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Torpy Park lower level. 

Lakeland Rotary Beer Garden opens: 10 a.m., Chicago Street.

Live music by Lincoln Family Band: 11 a.m.-2 p.m., Torpy Park. 

Live music by Tuck Pence: 11 a.m.-2 p.m., Rotary Beer Garden, Chicago Street. 

Beef sandwich sales: noon, Chicago Street and Torpy Park. 

Parade of Roasts: 2:15 p.m., down Oneida Street to Torpy Park. 

Awards ceremony: Torpy Park Band Shell.

Live music by Oil Can Harry: 4-8 p.m., Torpy Park.

Live music by Whitehouse Players: 4-8 p.m., Rotary Beer Garden on Chicago Street.

Sarah Hirsch may be reached at shirsch@lakelandtimes.com

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