One of my very favorite things about the beginnings of spring is that it signifies the beginning of grilling season. Winter in Chicago has been unquestionably mild this year with only one significant snowfall in December and a handful of days in February that reached 60 degrees F. Even so, Chicago winters are long, gray. and sad, and when I took my dog out this morning and saw crocuses peeking through the ground, I almost did a happy dance. Crocuses are green and green means spring which means grilling which means summer which means pools and warm weather and patios and everything good in the world.
Johnsonville, a brand that absolutely shares my enthusiasm for grilling season, kicked things off this weekend by partnering with the Special Olympics in sponsoring the 2017 Chicago Polar Plunge.
My cousin and I decided to go watch people jump in freezing water while we ate brats and planned out where we should go next to get lunch.
The Polar Plunge was fun for a few reasons.
One, I didn’t have to participate. I ran a few road races last year and I was always a little envious of the spectators who were warm and happy, while I dreaded running 13.1 miles.
Two, the Polar Plunge was also home to the Big Taste Grill, which kicked off its summer road show by offering piping hot Johnsonville brats fresh off the burners of the Big Taste Grill. The Big Taste Grill is a 20-foot tall, 65-foot long grill, which cooks 2,500 brats an hour or 750 bratwurst at a time on its 40 square feet of grilling surface.
I kind of want one.
Three, Brian Urlacher, a former NFL linebacker who spent his 13-year career for the Chicago Bears, was manning the grill, serving brats and hanging out with fans. I will not pretend I had any idea who he was before this event, but my boyfriend did and he was all kinds of excited to see pictures from the event. Incredibly fun.
In other celebrity sighting news, we watched Dax Shepard jump into the water, and maybe the most entertaining were the women in front of us arguing whether his name was actually “Zack” or “Jack” Shepard. So that was fun.
Four, did I mention I didn’t have to participate?
The other cool part is that to celebrate the beginning of grilling season, you can enter to win Johnsonville’s #FirstBrats Contest.
Between March 8 and May 15, you can pop over to www.FirstBratsContest.com, fill out a quick form, and upload a photo of your “first grill of the season” to Instagram, Twitter or Facebook using the hash tag #FirstBratsContest. One grand prize winner will receive a year of snow removal or lawn care and 14 first prize winners will receive a $100 grocery coupon and a Johnsonville prize pack.
Fun way to kick off summer!
The Fine Print
- Contest Period: The Contest begins at 12:00 PM Eastern Time on March 8, 2017 and ends at 11:59:59 PM ET on May 15, 2017.
- There are two (2) ways to enter:
- Online: During the Contest Period, an entrant may visit www.FirstBratsContest.com, enter his/her email address, and follow the instructions to register by entering all information requested on the registration form. After an entrant has registered, he/she may follow the instructions to upload one (1) photo of his/her “first grill of the season”.
- Social Media: During the Contest Period, an entrant may (a) log in to his/her Twitter or Instagram account, follow @Johnsonville on Twitter or @jvillesausage on Instagram (if he/she does not already), and post a Tweet/post that includes one (1) photo of his/her “first grill of the season” and the hashtag “#FirstBratsContest” or (b) log in to his/her Facebook account, visit Sponsor’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/johnsonville/, and post a comment responding to Sponsor’s Invitation Post that includes a photo of his/her “first grill of the season” and the hashtag “#FirstBratsContest.
- One (1) Grand Prize winner will receive snow removal or lawn care for a year, a value of $1,500.
- Fourteen (14) First Prize winners will receive a $100 grocery coupon code and a Johnsonville prize pack.
- Following the Contest period, all eligible entries received during the Contest period will be judged by a panel of qualified judges selected by Johnsonville. The judges will score the entries according to the following weighted criteria: creativity, photo quality and relevance to the Contest theme (e.g., entry captures the passion for grilling even if the weather is not ideal for grilling).
- Limit one (1) prize per person
- There is a limit of one (1) entry per entry method per person per calendar day during the Contest period (i.e., an entrant may receive one entry each via www.FirstBratsContest.com, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook) for a total of five (5) entries per day.
- Official Contest rules can be found at www.FirstBratsContest.com.
To inspire you to get grilling, here are few of my favorite recipes that use brats or sausages on the grill. I’ll definitely be looking for lots of inspiration to get grilling this summer, mainly so that Brad can do all the work and I can watch him, probably while sipping a cocktail of some sort.
Brats with Smokey Mustard Sauce from Wendy Polisi
Grilled Bratwurst with Horseradish Mustard Sauce from Spicy Southern Kitchen
Brat and Veggie Kabobs from Mandy’s Recipe Box
Gluten Free Sweet Potato and Sausage Dogs from Plating Pixels
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Johnsonville. The opinions and text are all mine.