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Tasty ribs and pies to help senior center

Gary Kinney (left), owner of The Barn Diner in Brainerd, Monday

Between the slow-roasting ribs well-known in the Brainerd area to The Barn Diner’s homemade pies — the sixth annual Herb and Mike’s Rib Fest Dinner scheduled Friday at the Lakes Area Senior Activity Center in Brainerd is anticipated to be a deliciously-good time.

Mike Jay, who is known in Brainerd for his specialty ribs marinated in Blues Hog sauce, has made his ribs every year for the rib dinner that is a fundraiser for the senior center. The meal also will consist of corn on the cob, beans, cole slaw, biscuits and homemade pie and ice cream.

There will be two seating shifts to accommodate more people and to keep the lines down — one from 5-6 p.m. and the second from 6:30-7:30 p.m.

Tickets are $12 for adults and $6 for children age 12 and under. Tickets may be purchased at the door, but organizers encourage people to buy their tickets in advance at the senior center from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily through Friday at 803 Kingwood St., Brainerd.

This will be the first time that Gary Kinney, owner of The Barn Diner in Brainerd, will be making the pies for the fundraiser. Kinney will bake a variety of pies including blueberry, peach, pumpkin, pecan, apple, rhubarb and raspberry. All the pies are his mother Gladys Kinney’s recipe.

“We’ll be making plenty of pies for the fundraiser,” said Kinney. “This is our way of giving back to the community. The seniors are good to us here.”

DeAnn Barry, executive director at the senior center, said the annual rib fest dinner is one of the center’s main fundraisers. The money from the dinner will be used to pay for a steam pipe to reroute the senior center’s heating and cooling system needed before the center installs its new boiler. Barry said the dinner usually brings in around 250 people and the center has around 40 volunteers who help.

“This is a good fundraiser for us,” said Barry. “Many people come every year to meet their friends and to enjoy the good food.”

Jay, who has been grilling and smoking food for 15 years, will make around 100-150 racks of ribs for the event. Jay will smoke the ribs in maplewood and use his famous Blues Hog sauce, among other favorite seasonings, dry rubs and a finishing glaze.

Jay’s wife and nine children all help out with the dinner as they have in the past. Jay volunteers for the senior dinner because he believes in what the senior center does for its seniors and the community.

“It’ll be a good time like always,” said Jay. “I will be sneaking some chicken in this year.”

Event sponsors include Crosby Eye Clinic, UCare, Good Neighbor Home Health in Brainerd, Bremer Bank, The Barn Diner, Kentucky Fried Chicken and KEMP’s Ice Cream.

JENNIFER STOCKINGER may be reached at or 855-5851. Follow me on Twitter at