Purchase photos

Cruising NWKS: Grainfield cooks up unique festival





GRAINFIELD -- They didn't need a carnival here to entertain the kids during Cruise, Shoes & BBQs last weekend. All it took to intrigue the many kids running around the city park was setting up a tall, authentic Crow Indian tipi.

Mike Bainter, Rhonda Habiger, and Mike and Tanya Allemang erected the tipi, owned by Edwin Johnson in Lenora, and made it the centerpiece of their first attempt at barbecuing meat in competition.

The Hard Wood BBQ team made its debut Saturday, using the tipi as a prep station and cypress wood boxes to cook chicken, ribs, pork and brisket. Bainter bought the wooden boxes -- commonly found in Oklahoma and Louisiana -- more than a year ago and has been "practicing" his barbecuing skills with Habiger ever since.

"We had the brisket and pork good, and the ribs are either good or they're tough," Bainter said. "And my chicken was horrible, but Mike, he can cook a chicken."

So Bainter and Habiger teamed with the Allemangs.

"We're rookies and I think we're gonna win it," Bainter said Saturday, just before turning in his team's chicken to be judged.

The cypress wood boxes allowed the meat to be cooked in the boxes, with the fire on top, preventing flare-ups and burnt meat.

"We were attentive all night," Bainter said Saturday morning. "I hope we beat all these guys that slept all night."

However, the team came up empty handed in the awards ceremony.

Double Trouble +1 out of Quinter made it three in a row, winning the grand champion award again from Cruise, Shoes & BBQs.

"It's so much fun when it's a nice day," said Tiffany Gillespie, part of the Double Trouble +1 team, along with her husband, Greg, and their three daughters. "The kids can go play and it's just a good time."

But barbecue wasn't the only thing on the menu in Grainfield. A horseshoe tournament was ongoing Saturday, as was a car show.

Organizers suggested some car owners stayed home Saturday because of the wind, but there still was a good showing. Shawn Shepard, Quinter, just got his great-grandfather's 1960 Chevrolet Biscayne running a few weeks ago. He spent Saturday polishing up other parts of the car, which was on display for the first time in Grainfield.

"I've got two pieces of chrome so I've got to shine them," Shepard said.

The event is good family time, according to John Perry, who drove in from Tescott with his wife, Annie, and three of their kids. Perry's cousins live in Grainfield.

"The cows are to grass. The combines are ready. Beats anything else," Perry said of attending the event. "Can't beat small town U.S.A."