Around this time last year, we were about to sew up the Kansas City Barbeque Society Pork Rib Team of the Year. Oh what a difference a year makes. Our ribs are our worst category this year. I would have never guessed that. But more on that later . . . . . . .
Florence, Kansas has hosted a bbq contest over the holiday weekend for the past four years. It's a great event, that with better power, would be a really awesome event. Unfortunately, it's a Sunday/Monday contest. I believe that hurts it's attendance. Folks need a day to clean-up and regroup before getting back to the rat race. Unfortunately for Florence, it hurts the events attendance as mostly the hard core, traveling teams cook this contest, and for the most part, it's all the teams we just cooked against the previous day in Winfield, Kansas
The Route 77 Championship keeps more folks involved, or I think both of these events might see a drop in participation. This contest within two contests combines teams overall total points of the two events to crown a champion. Actually, it pays four places with first place winning $800. We all use some sort of strategy as we cook these events, however I don't think there is a strategy for this series. Instead, it just adds a little interest to the weekend.
With a day between the two contests, we laid over in Wichita to rest up. As we arrived in Florence about 12:00 PM on Sunday, the first thing we see is a wrecker pulling the truck of Kelly Wertz from 4 Legs Up. He had just won the event in Winfield and it looked like he'd be spending his winnings in an unexpected way. Turn's out be broke down on Saturday on his way to Florence. Eric from Ribs 4 U, was kind enough to rescue Kelly's trailer from the roadside and bring it to the Florence cook site.
Speaking of just arriving at the contest, Johnny & Trish Trigg of Smokin' Triggers followed us into town. We had all stayed together the night before and had dinner at a diner with an impressive list of pies. I mentioned that the Florence event sold pies last year, but that they were all gone by the time we got to the contest site. So, this year I was determined to get a pie. As we're backing into our contest space, I notice Johnny waiting patiently in his truck to get into his spot, which was right next to us. But he was handing money out his driver's window to the girl who was driving on of the Gators at the contest. Turns out that rascal bought two of those homemade apple pies with apples grown right there in Florence, one for Sheri and I and one for him & Trish.
In terms of the contest, it was sort of a bittersweet experience. We finished 5th in chicken and won the brisket category. That brisket win felt good. We've been cooking good brisket lately and we felt like we had a decent brisket that day. Our chicken as improved greatly over years past but at the expensive of our ribs. Our ribs finished 22nd in Florence, down 13 spots from a couple days before. We actually thought the ribs were better than they were in Winfield. This is were I digress: If I only cooked a handful of events each year, I'd be pulling my hair out (Yes, that's a joke - I know I'm almost bald). Even our first year we cooked 26 events. So, for you cooks who only get to compete a handful of times each year, please accept my apologies. The current scoring system does not help you understand what, if any, issues you might have with a category. Mixing newly trained judges with old school judges only helps to hurt your heads when you review the score sheets.
Congrats to my cooking class partner and instructor, Johnny Trigg of Smokin Triggers, on winning the Florence event AND the chicken category (inside joke). Also, congrats to Ribs 4 U on another good finish as the Reserve Grand Champion. I think that's three RGC's for Greg and Eric. They're knocking at the GC door and it won't be long. Congrats to Kelly of 4 Legs Up on winning the Route 77 Championship. That extra $800 will surely come in handy when it's time to pay for those truck repairs. Ribs 4 U finished second in the combined scores, we finished third and Smokin' Triggers finished 4th. I can't say enough what a really great event Les puts on in Florence. Oh, I almost forgot, my parents made it down to Florence this weekend. We don't get to see them as often as we'd like, so it was great to spend a little time with them and send them home with some fresh cooked barbecue. Mom, you took home the winning brisket, so don't go giving it all away to the neighbors!
Next weekend I'm headed solo to Vermillion, South Dakota to cook in a first time event called Ribs, Rods & Rock'n Roll. The organizer is very enthusiastic and it looks to be a good time. They just filled the event at 28 teams, three of which asked not to be listed on the website. Huh? What kind of head game is that? I'm guessing one of them is Cancer Sucks Chicago or Quau and the other is The Heat is On. The other two are from Arizona and Minnesota. I'll report back if I'm correct in the contest recap next week. Either way, I know three teams that are going to catch some serious guff from the rest of us up there, that's for sure!