Sunday, August 24, 2008

Contest Recap - Big Island Barbecue, Albert Lea, Minnesota

What a great weekend for a contest. The weather was perfect. Sure, it threatened to rain on us several times on Friday, but it never did. Big Island Barbecue was held at the fairgrounds in Albert Lea, a town of about 18,000 on the Minnesota/Iowa border. We had originally planned to cook the Sloss Furnace event in Birmingham, but changed our plans.

The contest organizer was Perry Vining. Perry's an interesting cat. He commented in the cook's meeting that he hadn't had a haircut in over 25 years. I mention that to give you a little insight into Perry. He also admits he's been a little obnoxious about getting teams to his first time event. On July 27th he had six teams. On the Friday of the event he had forty-eight. He must have been way obnoxious for the past 25 days or so!

In addition to the typical four category event, BIB added a sauce, dessert, showmanship and chili contest to the schedule. Twenty-six teams served up about 130 gallons of chili on Friday night to folks who voted for their favorites. It was obviously a big hit because the teams ran out of chili. We didn't get around to sample or see all of the teams competing, but we did get over to our neighbors to see the rig pictured above. All I can say is that they were damn serious about chili. That's an 18 gallon cast iron pot and is said to weigh around 150 pounds. The comment was made that there was a 30 gallon available also. I can't imagine what something like that must weigh. The tri-pod cauldron type set-up was very cool as well. They just cranked the handle on the winch to raise and lower the pot as a way to adjust the cooking temperature.

We headed to Albert Lea because at Mason City we convinced Steve & Dawn H., our friends that saved our bacon one sunny summer Sunday a few years back, to enter and cook their first ever KCBS sanctioned event next to us. In the end, a conflict kept them from competing, but they did make it up on Friday evening and Saturday for the contest. They were even nice enough to go sweet corn hunting for Sheri on Saturday morning. I understand it was a little touch and go there for awhile, but they scored a bushel of very fine corn for her and gave it to her as a gift. Thank you Steve and Dawn. The corn definitely made the trip for Sheri.

Okay, I'll cut to the chase. We finished 3rd overall. The contest paid three places overall, so that worked about pretty well. We also won a free entry into next years event. We were 14th in chicken, won the rib category, 6th in pork and 9th in brisket. I thought our pork and brisket categories were our strongest. Once again, the judges proved me wrong. It really looked like Quau was going to walk away with this event after winning the chicken and pork categories, but the bbq gods had something else in mind. If contests feel it necessary to recognize the top ten overall, I really wish they'd bring the top ten up in random order and then announce the grand and reserve grand winners. Calling out from tenth place up takes every bit of the suspense out of the overall. By the time they get to announcing the overall winner, it's a foregone conclusion. Congrats to Mark Born of The Heat is On for his Reserve Grand and congrats to Dave Covington of Prairie Oak Smokers on their Grand Championship win. Dave has a large family and it was fun to see all of them up accepting the grand prize.

Lots of contests all over the country this past weekend. Congrats to all the winners and all who heard their names called, especially Doug and crew of the Toad Hollar team for winning their first ever grand champion in Nebraska this weekend. That is way, way cool! Next weekend is a double header as we head down to the Winfield, Kansas event Smokin' Behind the Barn on Friday and then on to Florence, Kansas event to defend our title on Sunday. Looking forward to the shorter drive. We're headed into the home stretch of the season as September is just around the corner. Before we know it, we'll be at the American Royal and Jack Daniel's World Championship. Looking forward to having all of our bbq friends right here in KC. See you all soon!

1 comment:

bonz said...

You guys are so cool. We can't tell you how much fun we had. Thanks for the great weekend. So does this make us "PELLET ENVY" groupies?!!!LOL Steve and Dawn