I meant to get something up about our first contest of the year a little sooner, but it's better late than never, right? Maybe not. Nevertheless, our first contest of the decade happened last weekend in Great Bend, Kansas.
We have become quite fond of Great Bend. We went there for the first time in 2008 for the inaugural Winter Q and have been back several times since, as organizer Kent Romine puts on a summer and winter contest.
We arrived fairly late - around 6pm - and set up shop inside the building. Due to the cold temps, teams have the options of roughing it outside or leaving their pit out in the elements, and setting up tables and prep areas indoors. We took our spot next to Steph and Kyle of TheSlabs.com, with our pit just outside the nearest door.
We had a good time, as we usually do at Winter Q. Kent organizes a pretty cool side deal where teams can make a little extra cash. It's a Calcutta where teams are auctioned off and payouts are based on a team's finish. With 60 cook teams at the contest, the auction took quite a while...and with Chris and I arriving so late, we were the second to last team to be auctioned off. There was some big money being laid down on some of the top teams. I believe the top bid was $230 or $240 for Munchin' Hogs (Rob bought himself). The big spender of the night was Donnie Teel of Buffalo's BBQ. I am not sure how much Donnie threw down, bought he bought Pellet Envy for at least $200, and added Parrothead Smokers and few other teams as well.
I thought we might have a chance to buy ourselves for a bargain basement $40 or $50, but the bid was up to $100 before we knew it and I barely had enough money to cover the toll for the turn pike on the way home. Donnie ended up buying us as well for $150 or something. That's more than we spent on the meat to cook in the contest itself! So much for scoring that bargain.
Despite the temps dipping into the low 20's, our cook went pretty well and everything stayed pretty much on schedule. I liked our chicken, but didn't love it and it finished in the top third...probably about right. Pork was great and we took 3rd place for it. Brisket was very good too and we won a 10th place ribbon for it. I thought the Brisket deserved better, but it was a real tough crowd of cooks so we'll take whatever we could get.
Now, onto our ribs. Ribs. Hmmm. How do I put this. The judges absolutely destroyed our ribs. They hated them. They must have spit them out and tried to clean wipe their tongues with napkins like Tom Hanks in Big when he tried the caviar. So Chris and I must have known the ribs were crap, huh? Nope. Not even close. I liked 'em. He liked 'em. We've had worse finish in first place. So where did these finish? 52nd. Ouch.
That rib score really cost us. We finished a disappointing 23rd overall. The guys from Reservoir Hogs bested the field, scoring an impressive Grand Championship. Rod Gray continues to dominate as Pellet Envy scored a Reserve Grand. We ended up making enough money to buy gas for the trip home and get a tasty burger and shake at DQ. And Donnie made a little money off us too, as that 3rd place pork was enough to score him some cash in the Calcutta.
Great Bend's own Kelly Wertz of 4 Legs Up BBQ pours shots for the assembled crowd of cooks.
Steph from The Slabs and rod from Pellet Envy pucker up for a shot of Gentleman Jack.