I can’t really write much about the American Royal that hasn’t been written before. It’s was big. It was loud. There was a lot of action and a lot of people. Beyond that, I can’t really explain it. You really pretty much have to see it yourself to get a feel for what the Royal is.
I think Chris and I may have been the last team to arrive to the contest and I am nearly certain that we were the last of the invitational teams to check in. When we called for meat inspection around 4:15 on Friday afternoon, we were told that all inspections were complete. Really?
We didn’t do a party this year and that was nice. It was good to not have to worry about bringing extra stuff to feed everyone. Instead, we just had my wife, little boy and my sister and soon-to-be brother-in-law along with Chris and I. Chris’ wife was not feeling well so she stayed at home all weekend along with the kids. We spent time at a few other team parties and that was quite enjoyable. Friday night we ate and visited with the Pork Me Purple gang and Saturday enjoyed a fine meal from the Ribs 4 U boys (what a great steak!)
As for our results in the contests, they were mixed.
In the Invitational there were 119 teams competing from all corners of the country. In our opinion, this is the most prestigious event to compete in and win in competitive BBQ. You had to have won a Grand Championship in the past 12 months, and they take champions from all sanctioning bodies. The best competition in BBQ is at this contest. Our lone award in this one came in the pork category where we placed 15th. We checked in at 31st overall.
We expected to do a little better, but there was nothing left to do but concentrate on the Open the next day.
The Open contest saw 473 teams. I thought it would be hard to top the food we cooked the day before, but we did. I had a weird feeling in the pit of my stomach that got worse as each box was completed and turned in, with each category coming out better than the last. So as we sat through the Open awards, not receiving a call, we were both feeling a little down. I might even say we were borderline disgusted as we fruitlessly waited to hear our name called.
Adding to the frustration, this is our 5th year of cooking in the Royal, and we have yet win anything in the Open. In fact we have gotten progressively worse each year we have competed there.
We were just about ready to get up and head back to our site to finish cleaning up when the top 20 overall teams were announced. What a relief to hear our name called in 16th place. Turns out we just missed calls in brisket (24th place) and pork (27th).
So while the monkey might not be completely off our back as we have yet to get an Open call, we do now have a nice overall finish to hang our hat on.