Having driven over 1,000 miles home on Wednesday from Charlotte, North Carolina, I was left with one day to get things cleaning up from Hammond, Louisiana, plus gathering up the supplies, refilling the rubs and sauces, and packing up to go again on Friday. They may call it "Jet Lag", but I think it applies to long days in a vehicle as well, because I just did not have what it took to get it all done in one day. So, some of my prep spilled over into Friday morning. Luckily, Sheri had Good Friday off, so she was able to help. Without her, I'd might still be trying to get ready.
After a serious straight line wind storm that blew through Kansas City on Friday morning with gusts up to 80 miles an hour and a power outage at the house, I finally arrived at the event about 3:00PM. Nearly the last team to arrive, there were 65 teams cooking in Pleasant Hill. Being Easter weekend, I would not have guessed such a great attendance. Well, at least not prior to my contest experience.
As you all know, we travel the country to cook and compete. Not until I was looking at our schedule to tell friends when we'd be cooking around home, a couple years ago, did I realize how little we actually cook around home. In our travels, we've discovered a level of hospitality at barbecue contests not typically found locally. I realize that this statement, especially when cast broadly, probably offends some local KC contest organizers. It's definitely not meant that way. Rather, competition barbecue around Kansas City has such a history that sometimes I feel it's taken for granted. I've said this many times and I believe it. No where else in the country will you see 60 teams competing for $3,000 total prize money. And yes, I know it's not all about the money, but wouldn't you at least like to think you have a shot to win back the cost to compete when you enter an event? I know I would. I realize that money and hospitality are not the same thing and I could write on this subject until you fell asleep reading this, if you haven't already, so let's move on . . .
Jeff Stith and his crew, including his lovely wife Tammy, busted their tails this weekend to make Smokin' On Big Creek every bit has hospitable as about any contest we've ever cooked, and we've cooked a ton of contests. They greeted us with a smile and that attitude didn't change from start to end. We wanted for nothing. His group made us feel welcome. They catered to our every need, making sure we had ice and snatching up trash as fast as we put it out. There was always someone available to answer questions and Jeff himself took the time to ask if everything was okay several times during the contest. Because of the storm I mentioned, some of the grounds were very muddy. Jeff personally delivered sheets of cardboard for teams to put down in their spots to help with the mud and mess. I don't care who you are, that's a level of service not often seen at barbecue contests. All in all, Smokin' On Big Creek is a true gem in the Kansas City area and it's no surprise the contest experiences exponential growth every year.
Congrats to Kim and Andy of Smoke on Wheels. They were awarded a perfect score in Chicken and were names the overall Grand Champions. Congrats to Craig and Patty Kidwell of Boys of BBQ and Patty for their Reserve Grand Champion finish. Afterwards Patty told me that she set out to beat Pellet Envy this weekend and she did a damn good job. We finished with a second place call in Ribs and fourths in Chicken and Pork. Our brisket let us down this weekend and we finished a very respectable fifth overall in a seriously tough field of cooks. Special congrats to Rich & Bunny Tuttle of KCass BBQ as they won the brisket category and qualified for the Chest to Chest Brisket Invitational in Great Bend, Kansas this Labor Day weekend.
We're off to beautiful Shannon, Illinois this weekend to teach our style of barbecue to a sold out crowd of knowledge thirty folks. Shannon is the only location we've hosted a class all three years and has been our most successful class site. We're really looking forward to it. See you all soon.