It was so cold in Great Bend this past weekend I could have cut diamonds with my nipples. The two pictures above tell much of the story. It was 31 degrees and dropping when I arrived on Friday about 2:00PM. The winds were out of the north and you can see by the flags standing straight out, it was blowing pretty good. The second annual Kansas WinterQ has come and gone. Mostly I'm happy because it's gone. I've always said that I'll only play golf when I can wear shorts. That philosophy may bleed into my thinking on competition barbecue. It was just too damn cold to cook outside. Now I know what you're thinking. Oh yes, I do dear reader. You're thinking "How can he complain? He's got that cool bbq trailer." Well, let me tell you that when it's 15 degrees and windy, my trailer is just a big ole walk-in refrigerator on wheels!Enough with complaining about the cold. Several folks who attended the inaugural WinterQ told me it was nothing like the typical contest, that it was way more laid back. I didn't really believe them, but I had to find out for myself. Mostly they were right. It was a good time. It could have been a great time if it were forty degrees warmer! You'd never know Kyle of TheSlabs.com was cold. That's him pictured above. I've been told more than once that he sees a little bbq in everything he does. I guess so. Kent Romine always does a great job with his events and this one was no exception. With an appetizer contest on Friday night, auctioning off team prepared meat for charity, a really great breakfast and the added interest of a Calcutta, overall this was a pretty good time.
Teams could set up outside on the pavement where there was great power and plenty of space. Or, teams could choose to park their pits around one of the large fairground buildings and make camp inside where it was warm. With 34 teams in attendance, about half of them decided to play it smart and make camp inside. I have no idea what the other half of us were thinking. To make matters worse, I went against my most basic competition strategy of concentrating on the four main categories, instead entering the Friday night appetizer contest. However, instead of going crazy with some expensive gourmet dish, I elected to submit Cincinnati style mini chili dogs complete with lots of cheese, chopped red onion and jalapenos. Sponsored by Oklahoma Joe's BBQ, I'm proud to say that those dogs rocked the house with the only judges that mattered, my bbq buddies and me. Oh, and they finished 9th our of 28 appetizer entries. Not bad, not bad at all. I think steaming the buns put me over the top on that deal.
So the event really went off without a hitch, including the traditional 10:30AM shot, hosted by local favorite 4 Legs Up and pictured above. I want to blame the cold weather and my participation in some ancillary activities for my performance, but I really can't. Neither of my briskets were really where I wanted them and the judges agreed. Otherwise, I was fine with my entries. I liked the chicken that day and the judges concurred. Finishing second in chicken, eighth in ribs, tenth in pork and twenty-first in brisket, Pellet Envy finished tenth overall. Not a bad start to the '09 contest season. I just wished we'd had a little stronger showing. Oh well, there's always next weekend, right? Well, not exactly, but the season will be in full swing by mid March.
Speaking of next weekend, Sheri and I are off to Austin, Texas. I'm speaking on a panel for the National Barbecue Association's annual conference. The topic is Compete and Win Barbecue Contests. We're also hosting an Old School versus High Tech competition cooking class in Austin on Saturday. It's a chance to see many of the competitors we see on the circuit all year long, but in a more relaxed setting. It's also a chance to meet folks who share our passion. It should be a great time and it's got to be way warmer than Great Bend, Kansas in February. I'm really looking forward to it.