Normally when I tell people I grew up in Denison they don’t really know where that is. In the past our claim to fame has been where Donna Reed grew up, she had The Donna Reed Show and It’s a Wonderful Life (classic, check it out) so we used to have Donna Reed Days which was a big acting and music festival where people came in for workshops and such. But it hasn’t been as big of a draw since not many people remember her lately so when I try to explain to them where I’m from I usually rely on giving directions via highway 30.
Recently we’ve taken to having a tri city barbecue each fall and I’m hoping it’s going to continue to put us on the map! I was able to make it back last year for the third barbecue event and this weekend I made the quick trek back for the fourth and was excited to see it alive and thriving.
I have no idea how Denison got chosen as the location for this event but it’s pretty awesome. For the weekend they rope off uptown and have a bunch of festivities and food! Lots and lots of food! It was cool to see all the trucks and trailers roll in from instate and out of state to compete in the barbecue competition. I think we had over 37 different competitors this year! Besides those competing we get tons of other food vendors that come in to help feed the masses over the weekend. It’s great having a bit of everything and of course, tons of barbecue. Cookies brought in a huge truck and served up some of the best ribs I’ve ever had. So good, so good… Pardon me while I daydream… 🤤
Seriously, you can’t deny how delicious those look. We enjoyed the food Friday night and of course had to go back for lunch and dinner Saturday as well. What’s great is while we had tons of food and beverage options (it was cool seeing Exile Brewery on tap – go DSM!) there were activities that kept us uptown. There were at least twleve bands that played this year and they were free concerts, having been to events around Ames and Des Moines it was cool to have that many that you could see in one weekend for free! Plus they had tons of activities for kids – blow up inflatable mazes and climb walls, pony rides, a petting zoo area, and probably my favorite, a pool with these huge inflatable beach balls that the kids climbed into and rolled around on the water!
Scratch cupcakes stopped out on Saturday to give us our sweets fix and when it got kind of warm we also grabbed a shaved ice from our local Tropical Sno. This year they also had the car show judging uptown which was cool seeing over 100 pretty cars sparkling in the sun. I definitely wouldn’t mind to test drive one of those older trucks, I think they’re adorable.
The concerts pleasantly surprised me this year. I was a bit worried the selection would all just be country (which is fine, I just need it in smaller doses) but it was great having a wider variety! Belles and Whistles were awesome Friday night and Ripe was probably my favorite as they played on Saturday. The Polka Police (yes, that is an actual band – think Weird Al meets accordian) was hilarious Saturday afternoon and had people doing the chicken dance. Really. When you can make grown adults do the chicken dance in broad daylight you must be making them have a good time because that is no small feat!
All in all it was a great weekend and we had the perfect weather for it! Can’t wait for next year since it keeps getting bigger and better. Here’s hoping more people come down to visit our town and put Denison back on the map! Check the event site out here!