The 25th annual Great Northern Jerk Off slated for Saturday, Feb. 16, in Conover invites jerky makers across the North Woods to battle for the title of “best jerky.” 

A little more than 25 years ago, four couples sat around the pool at the Gateway Lodge in Land O’ Lakes in a friendly discussion as to which of the homemade jerkies they were eating was the best.

After some debate, the group decided that an annual contest among the eight should be held at the same time, same place, which led Rich and Nancy Ruffalo of Conover to begin plans for the first Great Northern Jerk Off.

Before long, local residents were inquiring about the competition and as a result, the event was moved from a storage room in the basement of the Gateway Lodge to its present home at Club 45 in Conover.

Starting with only four entries the first year, the event has grown to host a record 43 entries. It also now awards a People’s Choice award for the venison/beef category and miscellaneous trophies. All proceeds raised go to benefit Nancy Ruffalo’s favorite charity, the Vilas County News-Review’s Warm The Children program which supplies area children with warm winter clothing.

The Great Northern Jerk Off committee invites anyone interested in joining the contest to register. The public is also welcome to attend. 

Registration will begin Feb. 19 at 6 p.m. at Club 45, immediately following the Blizzard Blast festivities in Conover. Judging will take place at 7 p.m.

Entrants in the contest should take their jerky, cut into bite-sized pieces and marked with the type of jerky, in a clear plastic bag. The fee to enter is $15 and allows entry into two categories: beef and venison jerky or fowl and miscellaneous wild game jerky. At the time of registration, entrants will receive a Great Northern Jerk Off T-shirt from sponsor Club 45.

For more information, call chairperson Kathy at (715) 477-0575 or Rich at (715) 547-6869.