Thursday, July 16, 2009

Central Kansas BBQ Cook-Off

That one word just about sums up our weekend in Great Bend, KS.

Temps reached the mid to high 90’s on the pavement at the Barton County Fairgrounds with some competitors reporting sweltering conditions topping 110 under their canopies.

We are no strangers to competing in the heat. If you are going to cook in June, July and August in the Midwest, you are going to get hot. But it still never makes it any easier. We even overheard several folks who work out of air conditioned RV’s and trailers comment that their A/C couldn’t keep up during the heat of the day.

All that said, I don’t think this was the hottest we have ever felt. The temp under our tent topped out at around 92 or 93, a few degrees cooler that the air temp outside – which is a change for us. We are used to much warmer conditions under our big top – sometimes 8 to 10 degrees hotter than the air temp outside. The change can be attributed to our new shelters, which were used for the first time out in Great Bend. Our old white tent with a thin canopy let the sunlight right through, leaving us with a sort of heated shade.
Our new black tent completely blocked the sun, kept the tent a few degrees cooler and, in our opinion, looked pretty sharp too. The new tent blocked the sun so well that we had problems getting enough light to complete our turn-in boxes on Saturday between Noon and 1:30pm. We’re already looking at investing in a better lighting system.

As for the contest…things went surprisingly well. We finished 6th overall out of 41 teams in a relatively tough field. I think I counted 13 or 14 teams who have won grand championships over the past few months. Our chicken was very good, even though it finished in the middle of the pack. We scored a top 10 in ribs with a 7th place finish and took a surprising third place ribbon in brisket. But an even bigger surprise was our collapse in pork. 36th place…ouch. After looking over the final results, several very good teams were at the bottom of the results sheet in pork. I am not sure if it was bad luck or a bad judging table, but I am fairly certain that it wasn’t bad pork.

We had a pretty good time hanging with a bunch of our BBQ buddies. It was great to see Andy Groneman win the Chest to Chest brisket cook-off on Friday and Rod Gray deserves a big congrats for turning around a sub-par performance in the CtC contest and winning the overall KCBS event on Saturday for his team, Pellet Envy.
Chris and I are growing increasingly fond of Great Bend and organizer Kent Romine’s contest. This was our third trip to the Central Kansas Championship and every trip is better than the last. We’ll be back in February for the 3rd annual WinterQ.

We’re headed back to Laurie, MO in a few weeks and we’re already looking forward to cooking again. I’ll hold out hope for more mild temps, but the odds are against us I’m afraid!