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.
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.
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 email@example.com