RCPD and MFD face off in barbecue contest at Relay for Life

By The Mercury

The smell of good barbecue is hard to resist. Some barbecue is better than others.

The Manhattan Fire Department and Riley County Police Department held their fourth-annual barbecue competition during the Relay for Life event Saturday at City Park.

Famous Dave’s donated 120 pounds of pork and 100 pounds of chicken for the five men from the departments to cook and serve to participants, many of whom gave donations for the barbecue.

As with the event’s other vendors, all donations went to the American Cancer Society.

RCPD has won every year of the competition. Sgt. Craig Kennedy provided information on the department’s secret for the recipe.

“Brown sugar and slap ya mama,” he said.

Excuse me?

“Slap Ya Mama. It’s the spice over there,” Kennedy said, pointing to some Cajun seasoning on the table.

Deputy chief Ryan Almes gave insight on the fire department’s approach: effort.

“We’re trying really hard,” he said. “I don’t know if we have a secret weapon, but we’re trying really hard.”

Unfortunately for the fire department, bragging rights continued to elude them after the judges rewarded RCPD with its fourth straight trophy.

As a consolation prize, one of the judges, Dylan Easterberg, 7, said his favorite of the meat was the fire department’s pulled pork.

Dylan is a kidney cancer survivor, having received his first cancer-free scan in March.

Dylan’s parents, Holli and Luke Easterberg, said the day they found out their son had a clean scan was a relief for them.

“I can’t express the feelings,” Holli said. “It was a pretty emotional day.”

The family members wore their “Fighting for Super Dilly” shirts Saturday in support of Dylan as they lapped around City Park.

Luke said the family participated in the event to help others in the way they know is needed.

“I know without support we wouldn’t have been able to do it,” he said.

Julie Sieve of the American Cancer Society’s Topeka chapter said the proceeds from the event go to a variety of programs and services, but the number-one area is research for a cure.

Sieve said cancer is a disease that affects many people in some way.

“Almost everybody I know does know someone who has it,” she said.

Melissa Turnbull of Manhattan, the event’s committee chair, is a cervical cancer survivor of 4 1/2 years.

“It’s an emotional event,” she said. “There are a lot of people who have been affected or know people affected by cancer.”

Turnbull said she was a part of Relay for Life prior to being diagnosed with cancer because she had loved ones who died from cancer.

“Being affected myself made me want to go stronger and harder to make a difference,” she said.

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