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Rib cook-off to raise funds for Habitat for Humanity

LUVERNE -- With 4.5 inches of rain flooding the Luverne City Park Thursday morning, this Saturday's Music, Meals and Meandering event is being moved to the Rock County Fairgrounds.

The event, sponsored by the Luverne Area Chamber of Commerce and Southwest Minnesota Habitat for Humanity, includes an evening of entertainment and a barbecued rib cook-off to raise funds for the next Habitat for Humanity home building project.

Live music will begin at 4 p.m. Saturday, with Not Exactly set to take the stage. The band will be followed by Tequila Sunrise from 6 to 8 p.m., and then Starfire from 8 to 11 p.m.

Food booths will offer watermelon, pulled pork sandwiches, beer, ice cream and Pizza Ranch items, while the main fare will be 900 pounds of grilled baby-back ribs.

Pam Dobson, Habitat for Humanity board member from Luverne and coordinator of the cook-off, said 11 barbecue chefs from Rock, Nobles and Pipestone counties and beyond will compete for bragging rights as the griller who can make the best-tasting, most-tender pork ribs. Judges selected from the three counties will sample each judge's offerings before barbecued rib sales to the public begin at 6 p.m.

All proceeds from the sale of ribs and homegrown sweet corn will benefit Habitat for Humanity.

Rock County is in line to build the next Southwest Minnesota Habitat for Humanity house and already has a site thanks to property being willed to the organization by Marie Wiegel.

"We have not done our groundbreaking yet," said Dobson, adding that they have yet to find a qualified applicant able to partner with Habitat.

"We're ready -- we want to start to build, but we're holding off. Hopefully we'll get someone to apply that will fit our criteria," Dobson said. Criteria includes that the new homeowner complete at least 300 hours of sweat equity in the project, make the home's down payment and attend the necessary homeowner's classes.

Southwest Minnesota Habitat for Humanity, which serves Rock, Nobles and Pipestone counties, has been searching for a family to build a home with since last fall. Income guidelines have been the primary reason why prospects have not been able to partner with the agency.

Dobson hopes a family will soon come forward and they can plan on a fall construction project. Shifting the work later in the year may also open up more opportunities for contractors to assist with the project, she added.

Proceeds from the second annual barbecued rib cook-off Saturday night will help fund the housing project. Geronimo Wind, who is building a wind farm in the region, is donating the 900 pounds of ribs for the cook-off. Dobson hopes people come out to the fairgrounds to enjoy the ribs and support Habitat for Humanity.

"We only had 350 pounds of ribs last year and we were sold out within 40 minutes," Dobson said. "I'm hoping we have a big crowd on Saturday."

Southwest Minnesota Habitat for Humanity continues to seek board members from each of the three counties. Those interested in more information about joining the organization may call Dobson at (507) 449-9350; Sharon Johnson in Worthington at 343-5470; or Kim Smith in Pipestone at (507) 350-9654.

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at

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