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Full of bologna: Minto to host 37th annual bologna feed on Friday

The event is hosted by the Harvey Avenue Saloon. Each year, hundreds flock to the Minto Community Center to try locally made bologna and to support local charities.

Minto, N.D., was founded in 1883 and has a population of about 600 people. (Sydney Mook / Grand Forks Herald)
In this Herald file photo from 2016, Chris Misialek, the former organizer of the bologna cook-off in Minto, lays out rings of bologna for judging.
Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald
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MINTO, N.D. – Some of the best bologna makers in the region will step into the ring on Friday, Jan. 20, at Minto’s annual bologna feed and cook-off.

This year will be the 37th year of the event, which is hosted by the Harvey Avenue Saloon. Each year, hundreds flock to the Minto Community Center to try locally made bologna and to support local charities.

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Steve Novak, owner of the Harvey Avenue Saloon and one of the event’s organizers estimates around 360 people came to the event.

The tradition was started by the Harvey Avenue Saloon’s former owner, Chris Misialek. After Steve Novak, who also owns Beaver’s Cafe in Minto, bought the bar in 2020, he continued the tradition.

“Nobody else does it,” said Novak. “We’re the only one in the United States of America that has had this tradition so long for a bologna feed.”

Participants make ring bologna, a variation of the sausage that is packaged in a ring shape and is smaller in diameter than the floppy, pre-sliced deli meat that may come to mind. Most participants in recent years have used beef and pork in their sausage, but the contest started with mostly deer bologna.

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The tradition started in 1987 when around 10 people at Harvey Avenue all thought they made the best deer bologna. To find out for sure, the bar hosted a mini bologna feed.

“Everybody came in to sample it, so they said ‘Tell us next year when you have it,’” said Misialek. “So then the next year, we had 32 people, then we had 40 people, then we had 60 people.”

At times, the event has drawn more than 500 attendees, said Novak.

Most years, bologna makers have been charged to enter the contest, but this year, because of the high prices of ingredients, that fee has been waived. Prizes are awarded for the first, second and third best tasting bolognas and for one best looking bologna.

“You’ve got some bologna that is just totally phenomenal – it just melts in your mouth, it’s great,” said Novak. “There’s other bologna that, unfortunately, you kind of have to spit out because it's dry and terrible.”

The reigning champions and the winningest bologna makers in the contest belong to a group that calls itself “Oslo Hog Farm.” So far, Oslo Hog Farm has won eight times.

“It seems like over the years if you make good sausage, the crowd and the people will come and judge it,” said Misialek. “Out of 80 rings, theirs does well, so it must be pretty good.”

The event starts at 5 p.m. Friday at the Minto Community Center with appetizers and drinks. Along with bologna, there will be a number of side dishes, including baked beans, sauerkraut, pork, dumplings and spaghetti. The event also includes a silent auction and a fun contest — participants try to whistle after eating multiple saltine crackers in rapid succession.

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Judging wraps up around 7 p.m. and awards are expected to be handed out around 8 p.m., said Novak. After the contest, everybody goes to the Harvey Avenue Saloon for drinks and dancing.

Participants are encouraged to make a freewill donation to support local charities.

There is still time to enter. Novak says those interested in entering can call him at Beaver’s Cafe at 701-358-0120. Entries must be in by Thursday evening, Jan 19. More information is available on the Harvey Ave Saloon Facebook page.

Minto is about 32 miles northwest of Grand Forks.

Related Topics: MINTO
Ingrid Harbo joined the Grand Forks Herald in September 2021.

Harbo covers Grand Forks region news, and also writes about business in Grand Forks and the surrounding area.

Readers can reach Harbo at 701-780-1124 or iharbo@gfherald.com. Follow her on Twitter @ingridaharbo.
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