Autumn has slipped in and started to change the color of the leaves. Children have returned to school, and a crisp chill has settled in.
Must be time to cook that beef!
Beef-A-Rama, a Minocqua tradition for 44 years, attracts tens of thousands of visitors each year to the cookout of the season.
An average of 1,500 pounds of beef will be cooked by businesses in the downtown area tomorrow and then paraded down the street Saturday afternoon.
Beef-A-Rama began as way to thank the local businesses for a great summer season.
"It is truly a community event and the community has gotten behind it," Minocqua-Arbor Vitae-Woodruff Area Chamber of Commerce events director Stephanie Tralongo said. "We love our volunteers. It would not be able to be done without them," she said.
But it wasn't always beef on the grill. For the first year, the festival was actually called Fish-O-Rama and businesses grilled fish instead of beef, but this lasted for just one year.
"The smell wasn't as nice as beef roast smell," Tralongo said.
This year the festivities begin this morning, Friday, Sept. 26, at 11 a.m. with the WRJO "Beef Eating" contest at Culver's.
Later, a dance in the streets of downtown Minocqua will be held at 6:30 p.m. featuring live music from Bad Down.
The celebration continues tomorrow, Saturday, Sept. 27, as the Rump Roast Run begins in Veterans Park and live music, an art and craft show, kids' games, early sandwich sales and shopping will commence in downtown Minocqua as the aroma of slow-cooked beef fills the air.
A new event this year will be the Cousins Subs "Moo Calling" contest. Registration for this event begins at 11 a.m. and costs $10 with the proceeds going toward charity. The event is open to anyone 5 years old or older, and the competition begins at noon at Veterans Park.
The "Parade of Roasts" begins promptly at 2:45 p.m. as the competitors showcase their creatively decorated beef down the street alongside the Milwaukee Brewers Racing Klement's Sausages.
The roasts will be evaluated for taste, presentation and appearance by celebrity judges Dave Kallaway and Tom King of WIFC Wausau, Jeff Thelen from WSAW Channel 7 News, Steve Petersen of the local DNR and Luke Sampe from WJFW Channel 12 News.
Longtime host Elaine Bassett will also be on hand to help keep an eye on the judges.
"Elaine is an angel for us because she keeps the judges on track because bribing is totally legitimate," Tralongo said.
In years past, everything from margaritas and good food have been offered to the judges to influence their decisions.
"It's much like the Northwoods version of Mardi Gras," Tralongo said.
The most succulent roast will receive the People's Choice Award and will be announced at the awards ceremony at 4 p.m.
Aimee Freston can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.