I just got in from a contest in Lewisburg TN., where I got my ass kicked. I'm sore, tired, it was in the mid 90's, it cost money that should be going into an IRA or college fund, and I arrogantly felt I should finish in the top three. So why bother? A question I ask as we hurriedly drive off after awards. A good shower and night's sleep can put it in perspective.
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.