I've cooked a ton of contests in the past eight years, but nothing quite like Bikes, Blues & BBQ in Fayetteville, Arkansas this past weekend. It's said that this event is the third largest bike rally and the largest charitable rally in the country. From what I saw, it had to be. It was amazing. The organizers talk about 100,000 bikes and 300,000 people when discussing attendance. Again, from what I saw, it could have easily been more.
The barbecue contest is obviously held as a component of the a much bigger motorcycle rally. The site is a half block from the main exhibit area and adjacent to the public motorcycle parking area. Although we didn't make it to the downtown area, there were many more activities there. The event even offered a weekend transportation pass so folks could ride a train and/or bus to get back and forth from the downtown area. Had time permitted, I would have loved to get down there to check things out. I will make it a point to do that next time.
We toured the exhibits on Friday afternoon. It was crowded, but nothing like it would be Friday evening and all day Saturday. The usual suspects were there, including Orange County Choppers, although we didn't see any of their celebrities. We did see some truly awesome bikes and a few odd things. The picture above is of a four wheel scooter with a jet engine. It's made by the folks at Hoss Fly, who also offer a more tame version with a small block Chevy motor. They were really cool. We got to see a short demo. These things sound awesome. We also saw a ton of great bikes. The one pictured above is a Big Dog hardtail chopper, a custom out of Wichita, Kansas. The paint on these bikes was nothing short of amazing. I grew up riding bikes and I've always wanted to own a Harley or custom bike. I don't have the eye for all of the cool details of an aficionado, but these bikes were hot.
Well, the post title tells you we won the event. Forty-one teams participated. We won the chicken and pork categories, finished fourth in ribs and second in brisket. That's four wins in a row. At this point, I don't even know what to say. Other than some chicken changes, we haven't changed a single thing in our recipes or processes. I contribute it to hitting the tables. I think it's like a streak. Said another way, I think we've been lucky enough to stay off of the bad tables. Otherwise, I have no explanation. Don't get me wrong, it's an awesome feeling, but I can't explain why it's happening. Somebody said, "Don't second guess it, just ride it." I guess that's what we'll do.
This weekend is about the toughest weekend of the season. In addition to competing in back to back contests at the American Royal, including the largest open contest in the country, we'll cater a private party for 800 for the second year. A project like that involves calling in a lot of favors from friends and family. We've done that and more. Sheri and I both know we could not do this without these people. Good luck to everyone competing. If things go like they did last year, we'll barely know our own names by Sunday, so I apologize in advance for not getting to see or talk to many of our barbecue friends coming to our home town. We're excited to have everyone here. We just wish we had more time to spend with them. Oh well, we'll see everyone somewhere on the bbq trail!