Monday, July 21, 2008

Pellet Envy bests field at BBQ in the Park

It was a long barbecue weekend. As I wrote below, Sheri, or an alien in her body, convinced me that we should cook both Iowa events this past weekend. It really didn't seem like a good idea at the time, but I applaud her vim and vigor now. Battling the fatigue of already cooking an event that day plus the very wet weather of a big storm on Saturday night, we were lucky enough to be the Grand Champions of the BBQ in the Park event in La Porte, IA on Sunday.

Twenty-three teams gathered to participate in this first year event. La Porte is a small town about ten miles south of Waterloo. We were again late in arriving and it was no surprise that a big crowd had gathered at the event. Roy and his group were very accommodating, as we were ushered into the event and allowed to pick our spot. The event was set in a the city park and when we arrived, great blues was pouring from the pavilion and folks were enjoying a warm, sunny Saturday evening in the park.

Unfortunately, it didn't last long. We pulled in at 7:30 pm, making sure to be there for the 8:00 pm cooks meeting. During the meeting, Radar, aka Darren Warth, announced that there was a big storm that would hit the park about 8:20 pm. We was dead on. We had no more than left the meeting with our turn-in trays when the wind started to blow. I arrived back at our spot just in time to see Sheri and DB of Pork Patrol setting up our canopy. We got it down and stored just as the storm hit. It was a bad one. We waited it out in the truck while most folks took cover where ever they could to stay dry. Strong winds, heavy rain, and nature's fireworks lit up the sky for the better part of an hour. Luckily, everyone was prepared and not even a canopy was lost in the storm.

Thanks to Mike & Theresa Lake, our awards on Saturday were right on time at 3:00 pm. I love when awards are scheduled soon after turn-ins and on time. We always have to get home after an event and those long delays between last turn-in and awards are always such a time waste. All the usual suspects were called in the Chicken category. We finished ninth. I wouldn't normally say this, but I was relieved with that call. See, Sherry Warth had convinced me that if we were lucky enough to win the Chicken category for the third straight time, I had to throw off my shirt and make a victory lap around the awards site. Why would I make that deal? Today I can't answer that. We've struggled so much in chicken over the years and then to win the category two consecutive weekends, I guess I just thought it would be an accomplishment worth celebrating. I will say, as I sat there waiting for awards to start, I was actually willing our chicken not to win. Would I have actually done it if we won the category? I guess we'll never know.

Iowa's Own Smokey D's (aka Smokin' Clones) won chicken. Then Big Mo of Ponderosa BBQ won ribs. Then IOSD took the pork category. Finally Big Mo was back on stage to collect his brisket win. So, we're sitting there with the two teams that won the four categories AND Smok'em If You Got'em, who had four good calls. We were called in the four main as well, with a ninth place chicken, a third place rib call, eighth place pork and third place brisket. While decent calls, they just didn't seem to stack up with the calls of the folks around us. This is the part where I say something a little negative - I do not like when smaller contest, or I guess any contests for that matter, recognize the top ten overall finishers even though they don't present them with an award. Why? Because it ruins the suspense of finding out who finished Grand and Reserve. This is especially true of Sunday. I didn't think we were in it. When they called out RGC, it revealed that one of the two teams who won two categories did not win the event. That would have left me with the assumption that the other one did or that maybe the team with four calls took it all. However, when they start with tenth place overall, it leaves little or no doubt by the time it gets to announcing the Grand Champion. Done the more suspenseful way, I might have ripped off my shirt and taken that victory lap, who knows. Okay, enough with that topic. . . .

Congrats to Big Mo of Ponderosa BBQ on winning his first Reserve Grand Champion. That was way cool. He was following up his third place overall finish in Waterloo the day before. Also, congrats to Darren and & Sherry. They won two categories. Darren had returned to an old, abandoned way of cooking his chicken and it paid off. Weber Stephen should send him thank you card for the trend he started a couple years ago. Winning the Grand Champion of this event capped off what is probably our most successful barbecue weekend ever. I never thought we could win two events back to back the same weekend. It is an amazing feeling.

Thank you to everyone who has e-mailed or commented on the BBQ Forum. I greatly appreciate your well wishes. Roy and the La Porte folks did a nice job with their first year event. They even had free ice and sometimes, those small details are what make the difference. Despite a warning some Iowa folks gave us about wanted to see our taillights headed out of Iowa on Sunday, we're headed back this weekend to participate in the Up in Smoke BBQ Bash in Mason City this weekend. I was lucky enough to get to cook this event solo last year. Ruth Miller and her group do an amazing job with their event. It's one of those events you just don't want to miss. The NYC class cancelling is bitter sweet. The best part is getting to go back to Mason City. I hoping to not defend my Middle of the Pack award I received there in the Pork category. See you all this weekend!

1 comment:

ULIKA BBQ said...

I have found that it really pays to listen to your wife. In this case it really paid off.