MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minneapolis police and fire departments are known for working together to serve and protect the community. But this Saturday, the departments will face off in a friendly, tasty battle.

Battle of the Badges will pit the Minneapolis Fire Department against the Minneapolis Police Department to see who can make the best barbecue ribs.

The contest started six years ago and has turned into an event the entire city can be proud of. Just last year, 4,000 people were fed at the event — but it’s not just about the food.

“There are football games that go on in conjunction with this event, activities for young folks to participate in,” Minneapolis Police Commander Gerald Moore said.

These activities include live music and a DJ to keep the crowd moving and smiling. It also allows the community to interact with officers and firefighters, giving both departments an opportunity to recruit a diverse range of candidates.

Minneapolis Fire Department’s Bryan Tyner says people have the opportunity to learn about their positions.

“People say, ‘You have to see it to be it,’ and so this gives us an opportunity for people to see us … [and] ask us what is involved in our jobs,” Tyner said.

Despite the competition, both sides agree on one thing: they want community members and visitors alike to venture out to the north side and meet their neighbors.

“We are all a part of a community,” Moore said. “They are working hard … [and] they want the same things you want. That does not make us any different, any better, or any worse than the next person. So if you really want to see what the north side is really about, come on down.”

Battle of the Badges occurs Saturday, Sept. 22, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at North Commons Park.

Reg Chapman