Thursday, June 16, 2011
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Sunday, June 5, 2011
From a broad perspective, it's small town America at at it's best, a bunch of hard working volunteers, and a few local sponsors coming together to do something nice for their local community and raise a little money for some good causes. They succeeded: good music, good food, cool vendors, balloon rides, jumping tents, and a mechanical bull. What else could you possibly need?
But what about me? I mean after all my wife and girls didn't make this trip (for the first time ever none of them went). Have they outgrown it? Should I take up golf, like normal people my age do?
First it was a chance to spend a weekend with my oldest son Russell. To make up for some of the lost time when I was too busy chasing my job and too tired when I was at home.Russell didn't have it as easy as my other children for many reasons. He has grown into a fine young man that I am very proud of and truly enjoy spending time with. I am honored that he wants to do this with me now. The fact that he is highly competitive, has a great sense of taste, and builds turn in boxes that get near perfect appearance scores is just a plus.
I also got to take two young men from our church that have a genuine desire to learn about BBQ and aren't afraid to work. They used the "mentor' word, which is scary, and put up with my bitchy Saturday morning contest attitude. They said they had a ball, learned a lot, and thanked me?
The friends I have missed seeing, Bill and Nina, a retired couple that used to compete as Bill and the Dixie Chicks were in the area came by to see some of their old BBQ friends. That was cool.
The General Porkticioners, one of the first BBQ teams I became friends with when I started judging, reunited for this event, two truck drivers and a medical doctor. This was the first time they had all been together in years and their comeback was successful with several good calls.
The Tolens, Jim and Jim Jr., Butts Bellies and Buddies I and II. Father and Son, sometimes they cook together sometimes they cook separate, but they always have a good time and are a pleasure to be around. Jim Sr. builds some of the most beautiful hand crafted BBQ pits anywhere.With pride he told us the story of the chrome rail on the pit and how it was originally attached to the back of a fire truck that he held on to as he rode to fires as a young fireman in the1960's.
Jiggy Piggy who would win Reserve Grand, Bob and Steve are great cooks and more importantly great people. They go at each other all the time, but you know there is a deep friendship and respect there.
Pete Moon of Bean Bandits, cooks alone, builds his own cookers, and has the best designed BBQ trailer in the game. He has a great engineering mind. He is a friend that will loan you anything you need and probably has it. NASA calls him when they need some spare parts for the shuttle. He came so close to his first grand with a third place finish. I want to be around to see his first grand. When it happens it will be a popular win, Pete has a lot of friends and respect on the circuit.
Brenda and Terry, alias Buck and Lou of High on the Hog, it was their day! Grand Champion with a bang! So good to see them do well after what they have been through.
Breakfast at Goobys BBQ. Jan and Bill Davis,two of the nicest people on the circuit have a tradition of cooking breakfast for their neighbors on contest Saturday mornings, and what a breakfast it is. I am so glad they got some good calls.
And finally the last group to mention were the loud, drunk yuppies attempting their first ever contest that were set up next to us. I mention them only because it is said that a good teacher teaches with examples and contrasts. I told my two young apprentices, everyone else you have met here represents the best and why we do competition BBQ, but here is the exception. Or as my friend the late Terrell Jones often said 'I've met about 10,000 good people in BBQ and about two assholes."
So lets clean up the stuff, restock the trailer and get ready to go again.
Monday, May 16, 2011
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
My fourth and most likely final trip to Charleston, was one I never wanted to make. In September 2006, Dot died unexpectedly with a heart attack. We attended her memorial and learned about an other side of Dot we didn't know from school mates and local friends. Even among the sadness there was humor. Lynn told us the story of he and Dot discussing a friend who's spouse had passed away and if they had started dating again. Lynn said "Dot if anything happened to me, how long do you think you would wait before you started dating?" and Dot said "Hell, I'd probably bring a date to your funeral". That was classic Dot.
Lynn moved back to Dyersburg and the Charleston contest was no more. Though he remained somewhat active in the BBQ community, we saw him less in the southeast. I strongly regret that I did not keep in better contact with him. Then in August 2010 we got the word that Lynn too had passed away with a heart attack.
If you knew them, then I'm sure you have great memories also. If you didn't ,then you missed out on two very special people, that make our BBQ community the unique and wonderful place it is.....
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Soon Lynn and Dot were planning to have a KCBS contest in Charleston and everyone must come.That's right, they invited you again and a again, then they just told you that you were coming. It was very hard to say no to them. Their event would be a cookers and judges event. It wasn't about the community , the public, fundraising, music or arts and crafts. It was about having their friends come to their home and have a contest. It would be held at The Boom Town RV park, plenty of water and power, decent money, nice trophies, solid dependable Reps, great teams and experienced judges ( most or which came from along way away) and outstanding hospitality. The contests were a reflection of the Bruce's personality, direct, to the point, no pretense no fluff, but a lot of fun. There would be three of them 2004, 05 and 06. I judged the first one, by 2005 we had started our team and cooked the second one, then Nancy, Trent and I judged the last one. The number of teams they had at each event was truly amazing, I believe it was 45 teams the first year, 50 something the second yeat and 68 the last year. Also, consider at least one event was on Easter weekend and that many of these teams came from 300 plus miles away. I don't have a lot of sympthy for organizers that complain that they can't get people to come to their event unless I think they worked as hard as Lynn and Dot did.
One of my most pleasant memories in BBQ will always be sitting on the back veranda of Lynn and Dot's beautiful victorian home on Sunday morning after the contest drinking coffe with Dot, Lynn and the Barron of BBQ, Paul Kirk. Good times....
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
The KCBS reps, Ron Harwell, the Braziers, Tony Stone, Stephen Smith, and others. All top noch at what they do, and good friends.
Back then, the only family member that traveled with me was oldest daughter Anna. The whole BBQ community adopted her like family and helped look after her while I was judging. I guess she was paying attention.
Two highlights of my judging career was judging the Jack and on site Memphis in May (Big Bob Gipson).
Of course during this time is when I met Terrell Jones....... but he will get his on story ..or two...or three... when I am ready to tell them....
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Then somebody changed the rules and now judges act like they are afraid to speak to cooks. In fact after cooking for eight years , I hardly know any new judges. They just run in their own pack.
Let me say this; Not once did I ever see or learn anything while visiting a cook that would allow me to identify their entry and show preferential treatment. Hell, I don't even think I could pick out my own entry out on a judging table.
If you want to see more unity and a healthier KCBS, this needs to go back to the old way.
Next on our schedule of events is the very fine contest in Rome Ga. This will be a second year for this event and it is a good one. Great location and organizer, lots of community support. But I suppose what really makes it special to us is that we were fortunate enough to win Grand champion there last year, barely beating out Bubba-Que and Two Men and a Pig.
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Winchester Tennessee, High on the Hog BBQ contest, April 15 and 16, 2011
Team Top Chick
"It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents – except at occasional intervals when it was checked by a violent gust of wind…."
What a beginning to a BBQ contest report? That is the way Team Top Chick began the 2011 season, participating in the 24th annual High on the Hog BBQ contest, put on by the Civitan club of Winchester.
This event has long been a favorite of ours for many reasons. First the location is a beautiful city park on the lake. Then consider the contest itself just a part of a huge community event, complete with a carnival, beauty contest, music, and much more, usually attracting large crowds. Finally the unbeatable hospitality the good folks of Winchester show to the BBQ teams.
In fact everything was lovely except the weather. On Friday night much of the South East was hit with deadly tornadoes and damaging winds, while in Winchester the wind blew hard and the rain came down, we were spared the worst of it. Hats off to the EMA folks at the event that kept us informed and stood ready to evacuate us should the need arise.
Bad weather did not keep this contest from being a sell out with 54 of the finest BBQ teams in America including names like Lotta Bull, Butt Rub, Jiggy Piggy, Swiggin Pig and Do-Rag Que in attendance.
Being our first event of the year we were anxious to visit with all of our old friends but the weather was not conducive to our normal socializing.
Everyone was very excited to see we had a new sponsor in Moore's Marinade .
Despite the weather our cook was uneventful and we had confidence in all of our entries.
At the end of the day we were pleased to walk away from awards with Top Ten calls in both brisket and Ribs and a solid 16th place overall finish out of the 54 outstanding teams competing.
We had a great time and won enough money to get home and buy some stuff for the next challenge.
We hope to see you all on the BBQ trail soon.