Midgets dressed as Leprechauns. Green beer. Those awesome oversized foam shamrock hats. Oh, it must be St. Pat’s Day in Kansas City. Or to be more specific in our case, it’s Snake Saturday in North Kansas City.
As far as I can tell, North Kansas City, MO is the only community in America that celebrates this very unique Irish holiday. Every year, come the weekend prior to St. Patty’s Day, Northlanders honor the legend of ‘Ol St. Pat banishing all those nasty, creepy crawly, slimy snakes from the Emerald Isle. Never mind that snakes probably never even inhabited Ireland in the first place, (most accounts credit the “snakes” to actually being serpents – symbolizing paganism, evil and all-around no good-ness) but that’s certainly no reason not to have good old fashioned Irish hooley!
This is one of the old school contests in Kansas City. It’s been around for over 20 years and, like a lot of the other grandfather contests in the area, they don’t offer a lot of the new glossy amenities like some of the newer competitions. No, this is a throw back to the days of judging tables filled with city councilmen and members of the local chamber of commerce. They don’t offer big payouts or free electricity…heck they don’t offer any electricity. What they do offer is a pretty big contest (73 teams this year) at the beginning of the year, making them the only game in town.
While this may not be the best contest we go to every year, it still is a lot of fun. It has also gotten much better since our first NKC experience several years ago and they have taken a lot steps to make the contest better. I really do enjoy it and we have had some decent success here.
This year also marked the first time that NKC had some competition for their competition. A handful of KC area teams decided to fly south to Little Rock for a big money contest held at the Clinton Presidential Library. About 10 teams from the area made the trek to stake their claim for the $50,000 purse (and four of them landed in the top 10). We chose to stay close to home, but counted many of our friends among those competing in Arkansas last weekend.
We set up shop next to Jerrod and his Dad, “Birdman Bill,” of Pork Me Purple. Friday night we enjoyed some nice smoked salmon, as we have for the past few years with this event usually falling inside Lent. Chris and I arrived in the afternoon and our families and some additional guests followed soon after. We were heartily partying by sundown and sent everyone packing by 10:00 or so.
It got cold Friday night, but we kept our working space under the tent relatively warm with the help of our propane heaters and our cooker. But boy did it get cold when we ventured out to walk around the contest. I did bring my heavy bibs, but I guess I was either too cold or too tough to put them on.
Everything seemed to cook pretty much on schedule through the night and into the early morning. We did kind of mess up our chicken and didn’t stick to the recipe like we should have. It showed in the results too (59th of 73). Neither Chris nor I were happy with our ribs either, but they faired OK, finishing 12th. I liked our pork, but we were late boxing it up and Chris just barely got it in on time. It’s a good thing too, as it snagged us our only award for the day, finishing 4th. Our brisket was just plain over cooked. It tasted good, but it was nearly falling apart as we boxed it. I have learned one important thing in competition BBQ: if you can’t hit it spot on, err on the side of overcooking. This is especially true when you have judges who might not be certified and trained, like a lot of the “celebrity” judges in NKC. Anyway, our brisket was 13th which we were pleasantly surprised with.
We only had the one call in pork as they started to name off the top 10 overall, so we weren’t sure where we’d fall. We were disappointed to not hear our named called in the top 10. After I got the overall results, I was really pleased to see our name in 11th place. We missed 10th by .0004 of a point.