Barbecue and muscle cars: Smokin' In the Park, car show draw crowds to LeRoy

 

If you drove through LeRoy last weekend, a few things might have caught your attention.

It could've been the tempting aroma of slow-cooked barbecue.

Or it could've been the hundreds of hot rods, motorcycles, tractors and souped-up muscle cars lining the streets of downtown.

Maybe it was just the incredibly large amount of people walking through the small town.

All of these things could be seen last weekend in LeRoy, home to the ninth annual Smokin' In the Park barbecue contest and the second annual car, motorcycle and tractor show that brought hundreds of locals and out-of-towners into the streets of downtown LeRoy on Friday, June 7 and Saturday, June 8.

The fun-filled, action-packed weekend kicked off on Friday night when campers and tents full of serious barbecuers showed up in Kiwanis Park to set up their smokers for the competition on Saturday.

Music filled the air on Friday night as performers like Pop Bottles & Friends and Zach Linley hit the stage in Kiwanis Park to entertain barbecuers and music lovers.

In the early hours of the morning, those hardcore barbecuers got to work on their meats in hopes to win at the Smokin' In the Park contest on Saturday.

Festivities started early in LeRoy as anything with wheels entered downtown to set up and register for LeRoy Hot Rod and Racing Association's second annual show. Dodges, Fords, Harleys, and John Deeres rolled through town to line up on Saturday for the show. People came out in crowds to see the muscle cars new and old and walk the streets of LeRoy in awe of the vehicles.

There were demonstrations and giveaways throughout the day by various businesses and people. The Replex gave away a six-month membership for one person during the event, and the LeRoy Fire Department did a demonstration as well.

There was truly something for all ages in LeRoy that day. Kids got to work off some energy in the True Value bouncy house. And kids with tiger faces was nothing new with the Zoo Lady and Her Crew coming out to paint the faces of many children in the park.

Although the hungry people tempted by the aroma of barbecue couldn't eat the food from the Smokin' In the Park contestants, Albone's was there serving up fresh barbecue to quench the hunger. They quenched so much hunger that by 1 p.m. they were completely sold out of food to serve. But other vendors selling sno cones, lemon shake-ups and anything fried also helped control the hunger of the crowds in LeRoy that day.

In the end, winners were awarded trophies at the car show and for the barbecue contest. Winners in each category walked away with bragging rights and a trophy to proudly display. And the Grand Champion of the Smokin' In the Park contest got to take the biggest trophy of all, one dedicated to Anita and Jim Allen. The Allens got Hap and Becky Zook started with this event nine years ago and helped turn it into one of the biggest events in LeRoy.

The Zooks couldn't believe the turnout this year and were very happy to see the hoards of people in the parks around LeRoy for their two-day event that drew crowds from all over central Illinois.

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