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Ribs, Rods & Rock ‘n Roll: SD State BBQ Championship a unique slice of culinary history

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VERMILLION, S.D. – Cooking with corn cobs is a distinctive tradition that has been carried down through the generations in Vermillion, S.D. What started more than 60 years ago as a rib feed eventually morphed into what is known today as Ribs, Rods & Rock ‘n Roll.

“My grandfather was one of four people in Vermillion that became known as the Norway Rib Eaters,” said Jody Harnois, coordinator of Ribs, Rods & Rock ‘n Roll. “They didn’t have charcoal, so they used corn cobs to cook the ribs.  That unique style of cooking, along with their secret spices and unique BBQ sauce, started a huge tradition of rib feeds in the community.”
Today, the tradition has become a competition between some of the best rib makers in the country. In 2008 the event was officially recognized as the South Dakota State BBQ Championship.  Now in its fifth year, the event includes rib cooking, musical entertainment, cooking demonstrations, vendors and car and motorcycle events.
All of this entertainment makes Ribs, Rods & Rock ‘n Roll an event for people of all ages.
“This year we expect to have 40 BBQ teams participate in the event, four of whom are rated in the top ten of the 5,000 Kansas City Barbeque Society registered teams in the United States,” continued Harnois. “That level of culinary talent, along with the entertainment and other activities of the weekend, are what make this a really great event for just about anyone.”
Ribs, Rods & Rock ‘n Roll takes place in Vermillion, S.D., Sept. 11-12. To see a full schedule of events, or for more information on how to register for the BBQ competition, visit


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