Smoke On The River BBQ Challenge On September 18, Call-Out For Certified Judges And Competitors

PONCA – Following a year off, Ponca State Park officials are looking forward to hosting the 2021 Missouri River Outdoor Expo this weekend.

According to a release from the Nebraska Game & Parks Commission, the 16th annual Missouri River Outdoor Expo will make a return to Ponca State Park on Saturday and Sunday, September 18 – 19. A diverse array of family-friendly, hands-on activities will showcase outdoor education, sports and recreation.

Another weekend attraction will be the ‘Smoke on the River, BBQ Challenge’ on Saturday at Ponca State Park. Charcoal and stick burners will be allowed as there is no entry fee. Certified judges will choose the winners to earn prizes. A people’s choice judging will be held at 12:30 p.m. supplied by the Expo board.

Categories of poultry will be at 2 p.m.; pork at 2:30 p.m. and beef at 3 p.m. with another category being wild game supplied by the Expo board at 3:30 p.m.

The Smoke on the River, BBQ Challenge is open to twelve teams.

A Grand Champion will also be chosen with first place in each category earning a one night stay in a Ponca State Park mini lodge. The Grand Champion prize will be announced during the event.

If you are a knowledgeable judge or a competitor interested in more details, contact Tyler Uthof at 402-369-2530 or email

Parkgoers will also be able to try their hand at a variety of outdoor activities including monarch tagging, outdoor cooking, kayaking, fishing, leather carving, geode cracking, shooting sports, rock-wall climbing, bow fishing, rope obstacle course and much more.

All activities are free. A complete list of expo activities and events is available at

The Missouri River Outdoor Expo is the largest outdoor expo in the Midwest, averaging 30,000 in attendance annually. Expo weekend begins with a special Expo Invitational School Day, which is attended by numerous schools across the region on Friday.

A park permit is required of each vehicle entering the park. Permits may be purchased at the gate or at

Ponca State Park is located just north of Ponca in northeastern Nebraska’s Dixon County. For more information, contact or call 402-755-2284.