Villa Grove Ag Day redemption

After our last competition we took a moment to regroup our thoughts and plan of attack. We agreed that since we were only missing higher spots by just a point or two, that we should go back to what was working.

I went back to the routine, as superstitious as it may be, that always seemed to work in the past. I washed my truck on my last day of work, got my pre-comp haircut on Saturday instead of Tuesday and packed everything the night before. I even had a bit of anxiety the night before, so that got me feeling good about the next day.

My checklist got marked, and even second guessed myself a little bit about whether the items actually made it into the box or not. Printed of my timeline and put it with the checklist on the table. The only thing we needed to get in the morning was ice and our chairs out of the camper.

Morning comes around and we continue our routine. We hit the road right on time and off we went. Fully loaded with ice.

……and no chairs

…….or that timeline that I printed off and placed with the checklist on the table. Even thought about putting it in the box to be safe, no need I wont forget it. Again.

^$$#*(@*&^@ (yup there were some bad words said)

Soooo the chair issue was resolved by a quick stop at Wal-Mart. You’re welcome Wal-Mart, you made money off of the Villa Grove Ag Days. The timeline issue was rectified by my backup plan of using my laptop. It’s funny when teams look at you and make comments like “You seriously use a computer?” while you are cooking on an offset.

We got to the park and were expecting to be first or second, nope. There are some overachieving teams that compete. I am starting to think they are coming in the night before to party.

Hmmmm I might have to look in to that.

Got our site set up, Leslie got her walking in and the process began. Yeah for trimming chicken.

One of the fun things about competing is the friends you make and jabbing that goes on between teams. This event’s receivers of my jabs were the team members of Smokin’ Wine-Os. Nothing like trying to throw the other guys off of their game, than by repeating false turn in times. Then making them start to believe that they didn’t know about the mandatory bratwurst category. At one point I had even made myself mess up the turn in times and I was running my timeline an hour early.

You know that one time when you had a great idea to bungee cord your paper towel roll to the canopy? PSA: When doing said idea, make sure it is tight against the canopy during windy days.

At least it made for good jokes throughout the day.

I believe we had everyone attend the good luck shot at 0900. That is everyone but one of the ladies from DB BBQ, she apparently was partaking in them the night before and may have been in recovery mode at shot time.

To be noted, I brought back the lucky 10:00 beer, as well as, the lucky turn-in beers.

Can’t hurt right? Stop judging me! Why are you yelling at me?

The day was about perfect, warm with a slight breeze and everything was cooking on schedule. The only bit of irritation was trying to foil and box entries while fighting the perfectly times periods of increased winds.

One thing I love about turn-ins is getting the hopeful opportunity to taste the other team’s entries. It’s nice to see the difference in flavors and to think at how they compare to our’s. Especially when a team kick’s our butts. One team that stood out was Midwest Smoke. Marlon is definitely making some improvements and am honestly eager to hear his name called. Everyone’s entries that we tasted were awesome this time. The judges picked a great day to come out for sure.

Chicken as usual was first up. We went back to including the breast meat if it’ good enough. As you can see we thought it was. It was tasting just like what we had been turning in to get at least 3rd place this year.

Our chicken scored a 127, much below our prior average of 130. Our appearance scores averaged an 8.8, I’d really like to get them up to at least a 9.

Ribs, the category we can’t get a call in to save our butts, were turned in looking like this.

I thought this box was amazing. Everything about it was spot on and thought for sure we were going to get a call. I was shocked to see that one judge gave it a 5.5, out of a possible 9.5, on appearance. SMH WTH? Really? Oh well his score was a low score and gets thrown out.

The time comes and the awards are ready to be announced.

Out of 11 teams we finished as follows:

4th in chicken

4th in ribs, woohoo finally got a call. I’m gonna say the lucky shots, beers and the addition of Judgement Day played a roll in this finish.

and drum roll please…………………………………………..5th overall. Hmmm well that isn’t where Leslie thought we were gonna finish.

The rep for the contest did make the announcement prior to the awards that the scores were pretty crazy because they had a majority of first time judges judging that day.

Congratulations to OINK & DOINK for their 2nd GC in a row. I told you it was going to happen and to DB BBQ on their RGC. Both of you guys kicked everyone’s butts. Awesome cook and scores. Also congrats to Sermer Stout BBQ for finishing 3rd place overall. You guys are gonna blow some judges away soon.

Next competition is August 19th. On a good note I won’t have to worry about DB BBQ as they are missing that one.


Indy 4-8-17 (Missed Que)

WOW I can’t believe it’s been over 1 year since we’ve competed. We took a little hiatus last year due to needing some good old family time and to vacation a little bit in the new camper. After some talking Leslie and I agreed we needed to get back out to compete. We’ve missed the friends we’ve met and the thrill of the competition in itself. We only had 1 issue to consider, what are we going to cook on?

A little history first. With the purchase of a new 5th wheel camper, we lost the ability to tow our offset cooker with us. This forced us to think of different options. One of those options was to go with UDS cookers. It would create a new challenge for me. I would have to learn a new cooker, a new timeline and a new logistical strategy. I like to say, “It’s not fun if it’s too easy”. I’ve had the opportunity to cook on the BPS UDS smoker (smoker #1) at home several times and found it to be a useful tool. The problem was I couldn’t do all of my meats on just 1 cooker, 4 would be ideal, but 2 would suffice. So I purchased one from Sweet Smoke Q (Smoker #2).

Once I got it, I only had time to cook each meat category once on it and tried to put together a workable timeline off of that before our first competition. Seemed simple enough. I knew how to cook, just needed to learn how to time it.

Everything seemed to be theoretically doable.

With any BBQ competition, I get superstitious, and do things a certain way. Good thing, though, is when things go bad, they seem to work out in our favor. Read any of my previous competition blog posts and you can tell. This time is was no different.

About 2 weeks before the competition, I find out we have a water leak in the camper. So I almost cancel our entry not knowing how bad it was going to be. Thankfully it was an easy and quick fix.

Then Leslie had a death in the family. We were ready to call it off, but she heard him tell her “Hey kiddo go ahead and do it.” just as though he was sitting beside her. That set it for her and I.

Tuesday tradition consisted of getting my haircut by Logan Vance. Packing up the remainder of things and relaxing.

This time something wasn’t quite right. The normal pre-comp anxiety never presented itself. I was calm and collect for the most part. Maybe this was going to be a good thing. I kept thinking about the sleep I was actually going to get using the UDS instead of a wood burning offset. I was OK with that.

Thursday morning brought a little bit of anxiety, the local grocery stores were all having problems securing green leaf lettuce due to crop damage in the south. This left us scrambling to find an alternative. Luckily the KCBS changed their rules and allow kale to be used as a garnish. The problem with that is that we have never used it before and didn’t know how to make a box with it. Thankfully Eric Ferguson was willing to take us under the wing per se and show us how they build their kale boxes. What a relief.

We headed out on Thursday without much of a hitch, the only real bit of concern was the 25 mph winds, near freezing temps and a rain that seemed to be tears of laughter coming from up above. This is setting up to be a fantastic contest. As we were cruising along I-70 we were finally allowed to give our brake system the test it deserved. Somebody didn’t comprehend how to merge into traffic, causing the HD dump truck ahead of us to lock his brakes and in return caused me to do the same all while being glad there wasn’t any young ears in the truck to hear my vocabulary.

Make it the comp and get greeted by Aaron like we were family. I have been to very few, if any, competitions that have welcomed us so well.

Our spot was very convenient and as always had the utilities close by.

Normally we like to get to comps on Thursday because it gives us a chance to hang out and talk BBQ with everyone else without worrying about what we have to get done. This day wasn’t like that, the weather seemed to be stronger than the desire to socialize. The 10 teams or so that were there seemed to stay hunkered up in their comfortable spaces. We did the same though. With how much we were in there and the amount of movement the camper did from the wind, everyone probably would think we were newlyweds if they didn’t know any better.

Friday began our normal routine, coffee, breakfast from the competition as well as a lunch. If I hadn’t said it enough in the past, maybe one more time might help, this comp sets the bar.

We even had a surprise visitor from a team we befriended about 4 yrs ago. Had only met him once and when he realized we were there, he said he had to come over to say hi. Thanks Shawn that really made the day.

Friday night we started our cook and everything seemed to be going OK. One thing I hadn’t factored in was how much of an impact the weather would have on the cookers. My plan was to shoot for 325* on both of them. Smoker #1 was running about 350ish, the pork would spend the night there. It always seems to be the meat that struggles to follow a timeline. Smoker #2 struggled to hit 300* and only ran at about 250 with a fan trying to control it. That was making me a bit nervous.

About 4 hours into the cook, I noticed the temperature on smoker #1 was slowly dropping, sure enough out of charcoal. So I started another basket full of charcoal and wrapped the butts. The butts looked kinda odd this time, almost like a ham, there was no real bark on them. I hadn’t done anything really different to them. The only thing that was unusual is that they had been in a deep freeze for about a year or so. I wouldn’t think that would have played a factor, however, I have had some atypical things happen in the past.

Brisket and butts came off and the smaller meats went on. I tried to wait as long as I could to put the ribs on because the new basket of charcoal on smoker #2 was still burning a bit unclean. Time was passing along and I had to gamble it. 2 hours into it at 250* they were wrapped and 1 hour later they were over-cooked *&$#&*, if you have read any of my other posts, you’ll note this is a common thing. I swear I could probably over-cook my ribs in 30 minutes.

Chicken was coming along slowly and actually thought that I might not have it done in time for turn-in time. About 15 minutes before time to make up the box, they hit their temperature. Boxed them up and sent them in.

Indy chicken

I thought it tasted really good and would meet all of the requirements. Even the breast was moist and had one bite flavor.

Next up was ribs. I was hoping that they would have tightened up just a bit to get them turned in and salvaged.

Nope, I struggled to find enough to make a box. Normally like to get 8 in an entry, but could only find 6. The flavor wasn’t good and you could taste the bad smoke on it. Despite what the comment card says, the sauce was not burnt. You can’t burn sauce that never enters the cooker, just saying.

Indy Ribs

This is starting to make me loose my faith in how we were going to do. They were so tender that just touching some of the ribs with a knife caused them to break apart. Ribs got a majority of the comment cards and I couldn’t disagree with them.

Pulled our pork out to start breaking it down. It was tender, but drier than an 8 hour lecture on the evolution of America’s water treatment process. It was so bad that I couldn’t even swallow it. I considered just sending in a box of money muscle alone, but Leslie convinced me to sauce up some pulled and add it to the box. Guess what I forgot to do? Cover my cut up money muscle for the 10 minutes I struggled to figure out what I was going to do with the pulled. Add in 50* temps and that makes for a cold entry. Nothing I can do about it now, send it it off.

Indy Pork


At this point I am about fed up and just want to be done. Even Leslie mentioned that I just didn’t look like I was in a groove. The cook hadn’t gone anything like I had wanted it to, I slept less running the drums than I had running the stick burner and I still hadn’t had a shower.

Oh well let’s get brisket over and done with.

Got the brisket out and got it sliced up, forgot to add the burnt ends back on the heat to caramelize up a bit and made an entry out of it.

Indy Brisket

The flavor, I thought, was a great beefy flavor with a taste of the rub. Tenderness was about perfect, but what do I know I’m just a cook.

The relief came after that last box went in. Tired, stressed and a feeling of disappointment had me just wanting to go isolate myself for a bit. I can’t say how much I appreciate my wife for all of the work she puts in at the end of a competition.

Award time finally came around, not that I was looking forward to it, but was just ready to go home. We sat down with our newly made BBQ friends from BBQ Jedi and listened to a really good christian band from the Indiana Bible College.

The teams started to get called up to the stage one by one, and one by one my thoughts on my cook were confirmed. Deep down I was hoping my entries found tables that were generous with their scores, but that never happened.

As I went up to get our scores, it appeared that just about every score sheet had comment cards attached to them. That is actually a really nice thing to see. Good or bad, we like to hear it, we may not agree with it, but it is still nice to hear.

We looked our’s over and it confirmed what we thought, my cooking was that bad. Out of 45 teams here’s how we finished up.

Chicken – 17th 167.3828

Ribs – 44th 144.5260

Pork – 31st 159.9540

Brisket – 36th 153.6456

Overall – 35th 625.5084

I honestly can’t think of a time when we have ever scored that low. I guess it is back to the training block for me. I never thought I would have had that much trouble with a cook, but I guess it happens. Just bites knowing what we were capable of doing in the past and what we did on this cook. I know what I say about fun and being too easy, I just wish it didn’t have to be too hard.

Well I guess I should stop rambling and get to cooking. Hope to see everyone again and to meet some new people.



All the small things. (Vernon IN)

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.

Hopefully a milestone in the making


Here we go again. The last day of preparation before a competition and as such the nerves start to run a bit wild and the gut doesn’t seem to really settle down. I add to it with the thought of how I need to have a great cook. You would think I would be use to this routine by now, but it doesn’t really get much better. We are having a pretty good season and feel like anything less than the last comp isn’t acceptable. Each competition we prove to ourselves that we are competitive, but seem to be just out reach of a GC. If we could just get everything to come together in perfect harmony, at the same time, at the same event, then we would get our chance to stand out among the great teams that compete.

Plus, we are very close to having a bit of personal recognition as being a top 100 team in the 5 events or less division. This little accomplishment to some means a ton to us. All it would take is a 10th place or better finish in the categories to move us from:

Chicken 134th > 75th

Ribs 168th > 88th

Pork 451st > 254th

Brisket 222nd > 115th

Overall 238th > 127th

This would be out of 2010 teams competing in 5 or less events and it will only be our 4th event of the season. It helps to reassure us that we are on the right path in some categories.

Well it’s time to get back to getting the final things ready and maybe have a few beverages later.

Please take some time to visit our sponsors. Without their help we wouldn’t be able to be successful.

Big Ron’s Rub

Chop’s Power Injector System

Mad Cow Cutlery

D&J Entertainment

Orion IL, 7-25-15


There seems to be a theme building for our success. If things are stressful and break the routine, then we tend to do pretty good. This last competition was no exception.

This past weekend we competed in Orion, IL and was suppose to be a pretty relaxing comp. It was scheduled in a way that we were able to arrive a day early and stay a day later if we wanted. Man this could be a little vacation for us.

Leading up to the weekend we had mostly everything packed and loaded, the only thing really left to do was to work 2 days and then load up the few remaining items that couldn’t be done earlier (meats, injections, sauces etc). So it should be pretty easy to head out first thing. The ideal plan was to be on the road by noon, but realistically by 2 pm.

1st day of work ended up having me up after midnight for the most part, so I didn’t get totally rested. Plus I seemed to have an intermittent annoying dry cough.

2nd day of work, again, had very little sleep after midnight. Feeling pretty tired, plus the cough seemed to become more regular. Oh well I guess, there is always that risk and seems like it’s a curse. It always seems as though if there is something important to do the day after a shift, you’ll be busy after midnight.

Friday morning I get off work, rush home and take my son to get his school physical that I forgot about. That will set the timeline back a little bit. No big deal though, some things have to be done. Get that done and head home to get a start on the final details. I go to hook up the smoker to the motorhome and find out that someone “borrowed” my hitch without telling me. Crap! So now I have to go spend more money and time. Oh and now I am coughing more with a bunch of sinus symptoms. This is not the time that I need this to start.

Got home, hooked up the smoker and as I was trying to swing up the jack, the little metal triangle used to pull the release pin out, broke. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? So I start to freak out a bit, thinking how in the world am I going to get it swung up. I did manage to get it swung up. That reminds me I need to get that really fixed.

Once we got everything settled and ready to go, we were on the road by 2:04 pm, Glad I set realistic timelines.

As we were on the road and about 2 miles out of town, a semi pulls out in front of us, causing me to nearly lock up the brakes and pray to avoid contact. Good thing he didn’t hit us, but the yield sign didn’t fare as good.He smashed and twisted into the ground it went.

Onto to the interstate we went, only to be cutoff by another semi and again causing us to brake hard. I’m starting to think either we have the unknown cloaking option or we’re a bigger threat than we thought and the other teams have pooled their money together to prevent us from getting there.

The drive takes about 3 hours, and 1 hour before getting there I realize I forgot an important superstitious item at home. The bottle of whiskey for the good luck shot. Crap again. I literally start to have a small anxiety attack.

Before you judge me, I am superstitious enough that I have certain clothes I bring to wear on turn in day.

I tell my wife if this is any indication of how the comp is going to go, we are going to do pretty good.

When we arrive in Orion, we stop to fill up fuel and like a golden ray luck shining down on us, there was a liquor store in the gas station. Again, don’t judge me.

Back on the road and we arrive at the site shortly there after.

We got unloaded and made our rounds meeting new teams and visiting with old friends. Our only real concern at this point was if the weather was going to hold out. They were forecasting possible severe thunderstorms.

We sat around that evening thinking about how the cook was going to go and agreed that a top 10 overall call was our goal. A top 5 would be great though. It should be attainable as long as we cook a good cook.

So with what seems to be like my routine bout of sinusitis taking hold, and hoping to not include bronchitis, we move ahead with firing up the cooker. The temperatures and weather, made running the cooker somewhat of a breeze.

The meats went on and the 1 hour log feeding began.

About 4 hours in I do a check in the money muscles and they temp at 195 and 201. Crap!!!!! They are overcooked. I hope they will tighten up with some rest.

During all of the cooking, my wife gets a call from my daughter that she is going to the ER because the ear ache that she has has now worsened to no hearing and blood coming from the ear. UGH!! Sure just a bit more stress.

Thankfully she was able to get in pretty quick and was diagnosed with a ruptured eardrum.

As each meat finishes, they all seem to have an issue with overcooking. I’m thinking a thermometer calibration may be in order.

The only meat that we seemed to be good with was the chicken.

Ribs were difficult to keep from falling apart as we cut them.

Pork ended up having no salvageable money muscle, so we had to do a box of chunks and pulled.

Brisket couldn’t get a knife to slice through the bark to save my butt. I have to flip it over and slice it from the bottom. We managed to get the slices we needed and added some pretty good burnt ends.

After we were done I couldn’t stop worrying that we may have just messed up our chance to get a top 10 overall call.

Awards were started about 30 minutes early, woohoo!!

I told me wife I wanted to attempt to broadcast the awards live. In my opinion it didn’t turn out too bad and we may try to do it more often. You can see the video here, Orion Awards.

At the end of the day we hit our goal:

Out of 15 teams we finished:

9th in chicken

9th in ribs

9th in pork

2nd in brisket

8th overall

I still think we could have done better, but we’ll take it for now.

I’m just worried about how much stress it will take to GC a comp. I hope I don’t have to have a vehicle stolen or a major breakdown.

Indianapolis, IN 4-11-15

Team logo

“Be careful what you ask for, you just might get it”

This past weekend was our first competition of the year and this first one in about 10 months. So to think we felt a bit rusty and a bit anxious, was an understatement. This competition was a 1st year event and when I signed up, hoped it wouldn’t be too stacked with top teams. It is located in an area of several great teams, but I still crossed my fingers that may have had other plans. No such luck, 39 teams signed up for this event and 38 of them seem to be able to win on any given weekend. This was a field of competitors that I would be happy to hear my name called just once in. This was going to be a competition that the littlest of details would make or break you from getting called.

Leading up to the event I managed to injure my right knee, possibly tore my Meniscus, and was hobbling around pretty good. This is not a good thing for a competition, considering I may have a 2-3 minute uninjured walk ahead of me. I waited a few days and without a lot of relief in the soreness I asked the organizer if I could possibly get placed closed to the turn in area. Without a question they said they would work something out. The only thing, I earned a nickname, “Meniscus”.

Our drive to the CCS Springfest and BBQ Competition was nothing short of a pain in my butt, the wind was ridiculous and pushed us all over the road for the 1 1/2 hour drive.  I couldn’t wait to pull in to the competition and relax. We pulled in and were the 3rd team to arrive on Thursday night. I tried to play the “1st team to arrive onsite has to buy dinner for the rest of the teams that night” card on Pappy Q, but I seemed to have been a little late for dinner. I’ll drive faster next time.

Aaron was on site to guide us to our spot and give us the run down. This event was sounding like it was going to be one to remember and to be talked about for a while. The teams were going to be treated like kings and queens. If you needed something all you had to do was ask. Friday was going to consist of a continental breakfast, snack area, sandwich lunch table and a prime rib dinner served on china by servers. We didn’t have to leave our seats to get anything.

We decided not to set up our site until the wind died down as we didn’t want to start a canopy graveyard. The winds, despite what WU reported, had to have been 15 mph with frequent 25 mph gusts. They were literally rocking the motorhome because we are currently unable to lower our stabilizer jacks, thank you again to Bob Ellis for spending your afternoon trying to locate the problem and finally getting the jacks to retract.

So Thursday night was a relax night and to watch who we were going to be neighbors with. It tuns out that the area we were setup in was “Michigan Alley”


everyone of the teams along this area, is from Michigan. Guess I should have mentioned I was from Illinois when I asked to have a spot near turn ins.

The team in front of us was Smokin’ Aces and had a sticker on their trailer that made me chuckle, because he asked how close he could get to us.

too close

Friday morning started our day of the competition routine. Normally we pull everything out and set up our canopy, awning, banners and tables, but the wind was still punishing us. We agreed that we would hold off on any set up until it died down. According to the weather reports that would be late at night or early Saturday morning. It wasn’t too big of a deal, as I had most of the trim work already done before arriving. We ended up spending most of the day inside sheltering ourselves from the temps and the wind. **Note, remember to bring a jacket and/or sweatshirt when the weather is forecasted to be cold and windy.

Lunch was served with a variety of sandwiches. It was pretty much an eat what you want lunch.

Lunch table

Cook’s meeting was @ 5pm and then a top notch (or as my wife called it, a romantic BBQ competition dinner) Prime rib dinner @ 6:30pm

20150410_175304 Dinner

The only thing missing were candles. During the dinner the organizer handed out a few small useful prizes. Our name was called for one of them. I really hoped that wasn’t the “This was a field of competitors that I would be happy to hear my name called just once in” wish coming true. I should be a bit more specific in my wishes next time.

After dinner we hurried back to the site to start the prepping of the meats. Normally we do this outside, but as it was the wind was still howling. If only the wind would die out, this would be a perfect night. I figured my other wish came true maybe the wind wish would come true also.

But for the time being we needed to improvise. I got the idea that a folding table would fit in the kitchen area of the motorhome and figured we’d give it a shot and see. Guess what?

20150410_150431 20150410_150445

BAM!!! I have an indoor prep area. Not how I would do it all the time, but when the weather won’t cooperate we have an alternate plan.

Well, low and behold, my wind wish did come true late in the night. The wind died out and the fire began. To my surprise the pit heated up quickly and the meat was on on time.

For those of you that compete, take note that the Michigan boys have a Michigan Offense if you didn’t know. Around 0:dark 30, while catching a short nap in between feeding the fire, I hear what sounds like a digital thermometer going off only it sounded like it as in our bedroom. Well one thing was accurate, it was in our bedroom just not a thermometer. It was our carbon monoxide detector going off. Funny how the two of those items sound identical. The inside of the motorhome smelled like charcoal burning so I walked outside to investigate. Sure enough Smokin’ Aces had started their pit up and without the wind blowing, the smoke was hovering low and around our site. Well played Mark, well played. So after trying to shut the alarm up, opening the vents and confirming that the detectors are hardwired. I had to turn off all the power to the motorhome to reset it. Problem fixed. *** Note next time a Michigan team asks if the can park close to you, check to see where their exhaust is facing.

Back to taking my naps.

Later on in the morning, I was standing by my pit talking with one of our neighbors, Cal Coop. I hear someone’s thermometer going off and chuckle a bit thinking, someone needs to wake up and check their meat. After thinking for a while I am reminded that our carbon monoxide detector sounds like that. Sure enough it was me, again. Good thing I was there, because my wife was out like a light and never heard it going off. So once again, vent the area and reset the detector. Damn you Michigan boys and your offense.

Other than the big meats starting off by cooking somewhat fast and nearly being poisoned by CO, the morning went well. I even got the chance to attend a cook’s church service, which was a nice addition. We decided not to set up the canopy and only had a table out to work off of. Ribs cooked a bit fast and luckily we caught it in time to hopefully salvage them.

Turn ins began and the only meat that really made us happy was our chicken. Everything else seemed to not be our best. Ribs tasted average, not bad just not a WOW! Our box contained ribs from only 1 slab. The others seemed to still be a bit overcooked. Pork started off with a money muscle sample, but there seemed to be an after taste that was off and we decided not to add it in and had to make a box with chunks only. The brisket flat was too tender and the burnt ends were great. We struggled to find the slices that we could use.

As always it was a relief to get that last box turned in and to know that there wasn’t much cleaning up to do.

It seemed like it took forever for the 4:30 awards to start, once they began the anxiety really hits and the hopes that I didn’t burn my wish for a call too early.

As the awards were called out it was odd not hearing some teams that you’d expect to hear called. It seemed like there were very few that received multiple calls and it made it hard to guess who would win it. The exception was team Hug Hogs, with 3 calls. Looking back through it there were some others with multiple calls, but it seemed it was all over the place.

At the end of it all what we thought was a bad cook turned out to be a pretty decent one.

Chicken 16th place – 168.0000

Ribs 8th place – 170.8456 (woohoo and heck yeah, that is a call and an award) From somewhere in the crowd I heard “Way to go Meniscus!”

Pork 17th place – 164.5600

Brisket 20th place – 164.5256

Overall 13th place – 667.9312

8th place ribs indy

The kicker of it all? Had we paid a bit more attention to the little details we could have had an overall top 10 call. Our appearance scores prevented it. But for us being rusty and our first event of the year, I am totally happy and walked away holding my head high with our results. We’re steadily making our way up the ranks and will soon be a team that others see and think “Damn ’82’s BBQ Crew’ signed up”.

This is an event that I hope we get to return to every year. Really had a blast with the volunteers. They were a great bunch of people that went out of their way to make everyone feel important and valued. Next year I predict they may have to turn teams away.

Every opinion comes with a consequence

I have always said that the BBQ community is full of great people. They always seem to be willing to help the other guy, whether he is a friend or a stranger. I have seen this through volunteering with Operation BBQ Relief and within the world of BBQ Competitions. Cooks are willing to give of themselves so that the other guy has a fair chance and usually not ask for anything in return.
I have even given of myself to help a local guy get up and running. This may have only been from providing advice and supporting him while he was vending, but advice can be a valuable bit of help. I did this even as I was operating a catering and sauce company. I never did this to get anything in return, but truly wanted to help what I thought was a decent guy succeed with his dream.

Yesterday, I was hit with a bit of reality as to the character of this guy and subsequently ended my ties/”friendship” with him and no longer will support his business.

While I was scrolling through Facebook I noticed a conversation that he was apart of. Someone had accused him of not cleaning up a softball field after he used it. Through the numerous heated replies the following comments were made:

“I don’t owe soldiers nothing B***h”

“The military huh?? F**k the military b***h”

There was also comments made about soldiers deserving PTSD because they volunteered for the military.

Now I believe everyone is entitled to their opinion and just because I don’t agree with it doesn’t make it wrong. But I also believe that you should be ready to accept the consequences of those opinions.

The owner of the business is Justin Shaw and the business name is Dogg Pound BBQ out of Covington IN. Please pass this information along those that have served proudly in our military as I would hate for Justin to benefit financially from a group of people that he has so little respect for.