Wisconsin parades a bounty of beef
During the Parade of Roasts, many marchers stay true to the festival’s theme by dressing in cow costumes. (cc Heygabe)
Vegetarians would be wise to avoid Minocqua, Wisconsin this weekend. Just 30 miles from the Michigan border, the lakeside town will showcase multitudes of meat during its annual Beef-a-Rama festival.
The 48-year-old, 48-hour celebration starts early on 28 September as cooks begin roasting a collective 1,500lb of meat on the downtown streets of Minocqua. Around 80 entrants, often in teams of two to four, vie for the title of Best Beef Roast in one of three divisions based on personal roasting experience -- first-year roasters in the Rare Division, one- to nine-year roasters in the Seasoned Division and 10-year veterans in the Well Done Division -- by using just the right combination of spices, herbs and sauces to wow the judges.
Once judges conclude their official tasting, the proud participants walk what remains of their beef dish down Oneida Street, Minocqua’s main drag, for the Parade of Roasts, led by the University of Wisconsin marching band. Mini-floats often accompany the roasts, and many marchers stay true to the festival’s theme by dressing in cow costumes.
Like lambs to the slaughter, all the roasts end up at the slicer, feeding the more than 10,000 people in attendance with approximately 2,700 sandwiches until the winners are declared in the afternoon.
Even the culinary-challenged have a chance to compete in the Beef-a-Rama festivities. The festival’s Culver Beef Eating Contest pits pro and amateur eaters against each other in a battle to eat a triple-decker double cheeseburger as quickly as possible. Those watching their waistline can register for the five or 10km Rump Roast Run to burn off some calories in the morning, though it might be a wash as the winners each receive a raw 20lb rump roast.