Monday, August 18, 2008

BBQ on the River - Excelsior Springs, MO

A few years ago this was one of our first KCBS sanctioned contests. It was also the first time we cooked on our current smoker…The first (and only) Dodge County Smoker to roll off the assembly line. My Dad pulled it down from Nebraska and we never even had the chance to practice on it. It probably didn’t matter much. We would have sucked on that or any other cooker back then.

But I digest…

It’s always fun to go back to Excelsior Springs. It’s a contest that is well supported by the community and they have a strong contingent of area teams every year from the Clay and Ray County area, which I always think is cool.

The competition is tough too.

Any number of the 68 teams in attendance could have won this contest and the field was stacked with names who have visited the stage to accept grand championships numerous times.

We were once again set up next to our good ‘ole pals, The Steph, Kyle and Val are always a blast to hang with and talk to. I even got some gratis baby-sitting services out of Valerie when she took Jackson for a walk on Friday evening, allowing me a couple of free moments to finish setting up our camp, as we arrived after 5pm. Chris was even later than I was in getting there, but we had no problem in setting up and getting our meat prepped on time.

Dinner was a treat as we participated in a Friday night pot luck with more than a dozen other teams up at the Boys Night Out camp. Everyone brought Mexican food and it was great! Chris made some killer Spanish rice and there was all sorts of other good stuff to choose from on the buffet line as well.

After dinner it was back to HQ to finish up prep work and get our big cuts on the cooker. The rest of the night was pretty uneventful and the weather was cool, maybe even a little chilly – but we’ll take it over the hot days and nights we’re used to when cooking in the middle of August. The rain also stayed away and weather-wise, it turned out to be just a perfect weekend.

Saturday brought another great day with the sun shining and temps in the 70’s. We started the morning off right with a world class breakfast back the Boys Night Out camp. Bacon, eggs, biscuits & gravy and more. It was all fantastic.

After breakfast we got down to business, getting boxes ready and sticking to our rigid competition plan. Turn-ins came and went and we were happy, but not ecstatic about our food. We packed up pretty quick and had about an hour to kill before the awards at 4:00, so we kicked back and stayed cool in the shade of the buildings on Broadway Street in downtown Excelsior Springs.

The awards kicked off and we saw a steady stream of solid teams making their way up to the stage to claim their awards. Unfortunately for us, we weren’t one of them. After not hearing our name through 3 categories, I had pretty much accepted that we were going to be in for a disappointment when we got a look at the score sheet.

I was blown away when I heard our name for first place brisket. Turns out we also took 5th place overall in the contest, and a not-so-great performance turned out to be pretty good. We improved on our chicken (which we have been consistently tweaking from week to week) and ended up just out of the top ten in ribs and pork with an 11th and 14th place respectively.

We were able to come home with a little money in our pocket and we’ll be getting ready for our next run up to Fairbury, NE for the Little Blue BBQ contest the first weekend in September.

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