As most of you know, somehow I'm always busy when it's 9:22AM, 9:30AM, 10:00AM, 10:30AM, 11:00AM, or 11:30AM lucky shot time at contests. Truthfully, a shot of Gentleman Jack just isn't my thing in the morning hours, no matter how small it may be. But we all need a little luck every now and again, and don't get me wrong, I'll take all I can get. So this past weekend at the South Central Masters BBQ Championship in Wichita, Kansas, I participated in not one, but two of the Saturday morning rituals.
Alas, it wasn't quite enough, as we finished Reserve Grand Champion by just half a point. Our chicken was 7th, ribs 12th, pork 5th and we won the brisket category. You won't catch me saying this often, but our ribs were rockin'. Oh well, the judges disagreed, all six of them giving us straight 8's. That's weird to look at on the score sheet, but I can accept their decision. Thanks to Lee & Kathy of Lee Dawg's BBQ and Mike of Smokin' Leprechauns for hosting the morning shots just the same. When the Naughty Nurses invited me for yet another round of "luck" I should have taken them up on it.
It's been many years since I've spent any time in Wichita. On the way to the contest, I stopped off at the original Nu Way Cafe. For those that don't know, the Nu Way serves loose meat sandwiches. They're offered with traditional hamburger accouterments like mustard, pickles and onion. The place was cool and quaint. I sat on a bar stool at the end of an "L" shaped bar, with a perfect view of the back of a women's head. I think she was as uncomfortable about it as I was. My sandwich was good, probably better than a Maid Rite. Sorry Iowa. They make their own root beer at Nu Way. It reminded me a lot of A&W, but wasn't memorable. I also ordered a chocolate shake to go. It was the best part of meal.
The SCKMBBQC is held on the grounds of the Old Cowtown Museum just west of downtown. It's about as remote as you can get in the center of Wichita. The contest site was a west parking lot with a tall fence surrounding the entire paved area. Honestly, this is about as isolated as I've seen for an event. As soon as I found the contest and got set up (unhooked the pit and backed into my spot), my thoughts turned to how the public would even find us. Well, this is an established event, although I'm told the location is only a couple years old. The mayor of Wichita, Carl Brewer, is a bbq competitor. He and his crew serve a Friday night meal as a fundraiser. As you can see by the pictures, folks had no trouble finding the event. This line lasted a long, long time. It probably helped that the weather was fabulous on both days.
We cooked with several teams I haven't seen in awhile and several we've seen many times. Our neighbors, Smokin' Leprechauns and Naughty Nurses were great. Blue Collar BBQ was close by as well. Tom and his crew are always good people. Gotta love a team with a watermelon canopy top. The hat has a story. It's the award presented to the Grand Champion of this event. I know am in possession of a black one just like it. Don't expect to see me wearing it any time soon.
The highlight of this weekend was seeing a couple old friends I haven't seen since college. The internet is a fascinating place and we found each other as a result of it. Friday night one of my old college roommate and I spent a little time in the revitalized Old Town area. Man is that a cool place. I'm proud of Wichita for that whole deal. The Pump House was awesome, with a cool, retro kind of vibe. The beer was cold too. My old roommate, Mike, is a big dog at Big Dog Motorcycles. Man, do I envy him . . .pun intended. What a cool job though. Saturday he returned with his whole family to sample my food. It was great to see his wife Crystal again and meet his daughter Lyndie and son Hagen. Hope I didn't butcher the spelling too much guys.
On Saturday another good friend from college came out the event to visit. Anne has lived in Wichita since our college days at Emporia State. She looked great. Just to make me old, she told me she has a son who is a Marine, serving his second term in the Middle East. His name is Paul, and although I've never met him, I admire what he does for his country. Anne was my rib taster on Saturday, although I don't hold her at fault for how the ribs finished.
Both Mike and Anne told me stories they remember about me from our college days. While entertaining, I hope their memories have embellished just a bit. I'm not going to get into it here in this blog, but let's just say while believable, I hope I didn't do either of the things they recall. However, it was awesome to see them both and I hope when I get back down that way in the fall, we can all get together again.
Next week we're off to Frisco, Colorado to cook. We've never cooked in Frisco, but have cooked just a few miles away in Dillon. I've heard nothing but great things about the event. The pictures show that the event is very well supported by the folks up there. It's always cool when the big crowds come out. I've been remembering some of the tips and advice I've received about cooking at 9000 feet. Hopefully they'll pay off. Until next time, happy q'ing!