This past weekend at the Flint Hills Beef Fest in Emporia, Kansas, we bested the field of forty-five teams to be crowned the Grand Champion. With top ten calls in all four Kansas City Barbecue Society categories, we amassed a point total of 674.2854 to slip past Reserve Grand Champion Pork Me Purple and chief cook Jarrod Caton. Despite the heat every year at this event, we have fond memories from years past. Beef Fest was an event we won in our first full year of competition. We also cooked it the year that Bart Clark of team Twin Oak won, sealing his fate as the KCBS team of the year 2005. Finally, this was the site of the now infamous lettuce core incident that got the Smokin' Salmons disqualified and ultimately cost the team a victory.
What makes this win so special for us though, is that being award grand champion in Emporia last weekend gives Pellet Envy our seventh win during the qualifying period for the Jack Daniel's World Invitational Barbecue Contest. In it's 23rd year, "The Jack" as teams affectionately call it, is one of the most prestigious on the circuit, not to mention one of the hardest in which to qualify. I won't bore you with the details, but in short, when the dust settles after the invitational draw on September 3rd, 2011, some of the best teams in the country will be left at home. The only way to insure your invitation and removing the fate of the draw, is to either win the only qualifying event in a state, be the only team to win a qualifier from your home state, or win seven qualifying events within the qualifying period, the later being far and away the hardest to do. We feel very luck to have guaranteed our place in the 23rd annual event by winning seven qualifiers. One bit of trivia: Pellet Envy has never been in the draw. In the our seven years to participate in this event, we've been invited four times under the Ole Number Seven rule, making Pellet Envy the top team to compete in the Jack in this fashion. The other three years we won the only qualifiers in a state.
One other thing that makes this past weekend's win special, is the points awarded for the Kansas City Barbeque Society Team of the Year chase. This Emporia win propels us into second place, only ten points behind the current leader. With Pellet Envy being the current national champion, it would be an amazing feat to repeat as the KCBS Team of the Year. With about fifteen weeks left to the season, there is still a lot of barbecue to cook. But hold on to your hats, because this year could be an even wilder finish than the 2010 season that saw us travel over 13,000 miles in six weeks to compete and win the title. I just hope we're up to the challenge should it come down to that. Stay tuned race fans!