This past competition started off on the same note as the previous one, a car nearly ran a red light almost hitting us, then on the interstate we had 2 incidents of a semi entering our lane. To say I was a bit on edge after that would be an understatement.
Leading up to this competition I checked our standings in the KCBS TOY for teams competing in 5 or less competitions, this comp was going to be our 4th, and realized that if we had a top 10 call in chicken and ribs that we would make it into the top 100. This is a field consisting of 2004 teams, as of this time. For some teams they don’t pay attention to this, but to us it gives us something to work towards. It gives us a bit pride and a feeling of accomplishment.
As usual, I scouted out who was going to be there and from the stats, all but a handful of teams seem to score on avg about the same. This meant the smallest of mistakes could potentially knock you out of a top 10 call. I wasn’t too worried about the chicken category, as we’ve been consistent throughout the year, ribs made me a bit nervous as I just haven’t been able to knock down the timing for some reason. Every cook they seem to overcook, no matter what adjustments I make.
It was just going to take me keeping my head in the game.
Our spot was right on the road facing out, so we could head out without much waiting. Backing in to get parked next to the curb had only 1 real obstacle, a power pole about 1 foot from the road. Then there was a decent crown in the road that leaned us towards it. It made for a bit of anxiety to avoid rocking into it.
Once we got settled in Vernon, the history of the town made itself known. It seemed every time I turned my head there was a historical marker describing a famous war battle, or lack thereof, or one of the first raised railroads. I had a great time just walking around the town square and exploring different things. I logged about 10,000+ steps and the town is only .24 sq mi.
Thursday night we had the privilege of meeting and talking with Indiana’s only town mayor. You could see the pride he had for his small town of 317. He told us about the history of the town and how it was older than the state of Indiana itself. Being surrounded by the river on 3 sides of the town and North Vernon on the other, prevented the expansion of the town. I I asked him how much commerce they had, he kinda chuckled and said for commerce they have parties. This in turn made me chuckle. Apparently they have regular street dances that draw nearly 500 people. Their population grows by 50%, not too many other towns can probably make that claim.
Friday started off with the normal comp routines, except this time Leslie had yard sales on the mind. This weekend the town has more yard sales than historical tidbits and she was in heaven. I got a kick out seeing her come back with her arms full of deals. One trip back involved her being driven by the people having a sale. Who knew there was a customer rewards program, “buy so many items, earn a trip home”. It’s amazing how friendly everyone was, Leslie offered them BBQ samples the next day for giving her a ride home.
Friday ended with the lighting of the fire and the routine walk through the comp to see who was up and who was sleeping. It gives me something to do while the big meats wait to hit the cooker.
Saturday begins with feeling like I hadn’t really slept at all. Good thing I have a pretty good routine and things tend to flow. This comp I opted not to put up our canopy, as I didn’t want to mess with taking it down later. The only probably this creates is where to put cleaning supplies. I usually hang them from the canopy supports. This time I’d just have to hang them off of the smoker.
As the morning went on it was time to spritz the chicken breasts and the whole chicken with juice. I grab the spray bottle and spray away. I get a nice shiny coverage just in time to notice I am using bleach water. “*&%%$^*(@#@!” All I could think is that I just ruined my chance to get a top 100 placing in chicken. The only positive is that I don’t spray my thighs, so I still have a chicken entry. I just hope it’s enough to make the judges happy.
The rest of the cook seemed to go as expected, ribs overcooked again and pork wouldn’t cook.
Award time came around and I stood anxiously waiting to hopefully hear our name.
1st category called was chicken, 9th place, Woo hoo!! we got our call.
Ribs, 4th place.That’s another call. I didn’t think we were going to make it that high. I thought the tenderness was going to kill them.
Pork, 16th place. I am going to spend a lot of time cooking pork and figuring out what to try next. This just isn’t working for us.
Brisket, 6th place. That helps for our overall standing.
Overall 9th place. Man that feels good.
Pork tenderness killed us this time, but I was pretty happy overall. It helped to offset my disappointment with making a mistake with chicken. Now just to make it safely home. Hopefully the semis will see us a bit better.
As I start to pull out into the street to hook up the smoker, I hear a god awful scraping sound. All I can I think of is what in the world did I make contact with? Did I leave an antennae up? Did the trees overhanging tear up something on the roof? I looked in the passenger mirror so I wouldn’t hit the smoker.
Oh yeah I forgot I have a driver’s side mirror. Oh hello Mr power pole that I was so worried about when parking on Thursday. Did I forget to say good bye to you? Well you left an everlasting impression on me and pulled the side paneling away from the motorhome. UGH!!!!!! Another small simple thing that was avoidable had I just paid attention the small things.
With the help of Extra Mile BBQ, I patched it up with duct tape (that lasted long enough to make it to the interstate). This was quickly becoming one of the most expensive BBQ competitions we’ve attended. So with that little OOPS, I think our KCBS season will be done this year.
On the silver lining of it all:
We are a top 100 team in chicken, ribs and brisket. Leslie had a great time shopping and I learned to take my time and appreciate all the small things.
Thank you to our sponsors for helping to get us where we are this year. #bigronsrub #chopspowerinjector #dandjentertainment #madcowcutlery
And a huge thank you to my wonderful wife for being so supportive, even when she may not have wanted to be.