Sparta Bike and Board Park to host BBQ cookoff at Butterfest

The Sparta Bike and Board Park will be hosting a BBQ Cook-Off Competition for the first time at Sparta Butterfest as a fundraiser for the park. Herald photo by Nicole Vik.

This year, for the first time ever, the Sparta Bike and Board Park Committee will be hosting a barbecue competition as a fundraiser for the Sparta Bike and Board Park during Sparta Butterfest.

In 1998, the Sparta Police Department along with a few area lumber yards agreed to work with a group of local skateboarders and bikers to provide an area where they could safely congregate. Together, they hosted a demonstration in the McDonalds’ parking lot as part of a bike rodeo.

Among that group of young skateboarders was Shawn McManus, who recalls ramps were built from donated wood at the police station and moved over to the outdoor hockey rink. The skate park was available during the summers and the ramps were sheltered during the winter when the hockey rink was active.

“It was a way to keep the kids with skateboards and bikes off of private property and businesses and have a safe environment for all of us to have fun,” McManus said. “It was really great.”

There was no preventative maintenance done to the ramps and the second year the group had the ramps out, they were destroyed by a visiting group of skateboarders, according to McManus.

“None of the kids in our community would have done that because we built it for a reason,” he said. “It wasn’t like they came in to vandalize the park, but they were just really hard on the ramps and a few of them fell apart.”

The park was removed and as the local group of skateboarders grew older and became family men, they decided that they wanted to bring something back to the community and provide that atmosphere again.

“Even though we could hardly ride skateboards much anymore we still tried on those event days,” McManus joked, adding that the City of Sparta offered its support for the project.

The City offered to match 50 percent of any funds raised by the group to not only build a new skate park using a professional company, but also for the expenses of maintenance and upkeep to the park.

“The city has really been a benchmark to supporting anything that we’ve wanted to do,” McManus said.

The skate park is currently in phase two of a four-phased project to rebuild the park, which currently consists of a half pipe, a stair set obstacle, several ramps and rails and more.

“Our goal is to slowly work into completion but more importantly is the upkeep and maintenance of the park for safety,” McManus said. “We’re all about the safety of the park and there are costs associated with that.”

In order to complete more phases, the Sparta Bike and Board Park Committee needs to raise more money.

The committee had hosted a cooking competition previously as a fundraiser, which went over really well, and they decided to try it again during Butterfest.

“With all the food sales at Butterfest, we decided we’ll have samples during the cooking competition,” McManus explained. “People can purchase tickets for samples and then they can pick which team they thought had the best sample for the People’s Choice Award.”

Each cookoff team will be supplied with two racks of ribs as well as two whole chickens to cook however they prefer whether it's with a smoker or a grill.

There is a fee to sign up and there are still limited spots available for the cookoff. For individuals interested in participating, please contact Ben Burkhardt at (608) 385-4385 to register.

Meat distribution for competitors will take place at 7 a.m. on Sunday, June 13 at the park, which is located at 770 East Montgomery St in Sparta. Judging for the competition will be held at 4 p.m. when winners will be awarded prize packages.

The committee will also have numerous giveaways during the event.

In 2012, Sparta's Bike and Board Park held its first ever Bike and Board Demonstration as part of Sparta Butterfest. The demo typically features many local bikers and boarders performing their best tricks for crowds of fans.

In addition to the BBQ Cook-Off Competition, there will be a bike and board demonstration from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. as well as Game of S.K.A.T.E. competition, which is similar to a basketball game of H.O.R.S.E.

“All proceeds, 100 percent of the proceeds, will go directly to maintenance and future events for the park,” McManus said. “We want to keep the skate park active and thriving.”

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