What words come to mind when you think of Red, White and BBQ. I’m sure many of the ones you’re thinking are what I thought too – fun, tasty, patriotic, beers, pork, socializing. This was only partial reality. The more accurate words I can think of are mud, lightning, evacuation, and patience. I am by no means complaining. I looked at this competition as a test to see how devoted I am to BBQ. This was God saying “If she doesn’t survive this, it wasn’t meant to be”.
I woke up bright and early Saturday morning. I was absolutely thrilled that I was only hours away from experiencing my first BBQ competition. I should say my first food related competition period. Saturday was the day of the competition I contributed to, the peoples choice chili contest. I am new to smoking and BBQ and when I heard there was small little contest along with the big event I wanted to be a part of it. I had a friend of mine share her solid recipe for chili, I created the vision for the presentation and bought fancy little do-dads to make it pretty. I woke up early to fry up fresh tortilla chips and little tortilla crisps and assure that everything was ready to go for the prize winning chili. I gathered all my snacks, bedding ,tent, air mattress (im not that tough yet), and I was ready to go.
I was slightly concerned on my way to Westmont because the entire sky was white and gray with angry looking clouds. I compulsively checked the weather about every 15-30 minutes to see what was expected. It kept assuring me that there may be a thunderstorm over night but morning and afternoon would be cloudy and 70º. I pulled up to the competition grounds and was in awe of the spread of competitors smokers, trailers, and RV’s. Here I am in my little 2 door Grand Am and a tent I bought from Wal-Mart. I still unpacked my car with confidence, making it seem like I totally belong there with the big guys. I set up my little tent and air mattress and then hung out with my team. Right round 2pm Mother Nature threw a fit. Complete down pour! I hated all the people in their cute little RV’s with their little chair set ups underneath their metal canopies keeping them dry and content. We had our little shanty tent. The usual fold up tents with tarps for sides. We sprung a few leaks and had a nice little water feature but overall we were okay. My only concern was in just a few hours was people’s choice chili. Rain tends to keep people from wanting to walk outside for a 4oz portion of chili. I waited it out patiently, praying that my cooler full of chili will not go uneaten.
Luckily by 6pm the rain had died down to only a drizzle. The people started to flood into the fair grounds, tasting spoon in hand. I had my table set up beautifully. Crock pot, nice linens down, my piggy platters I bought from World Market, a stack of black cups, bright red spoons – I was ready for them with total confidence. People were ranting and raving over the chili. I totally felt I had this contest! I had some friends and family come visit and vote for me which gave me the chance to scope out the competition. There were a few tasty chili’s but there were even more duds. I passed my chili out to surrounding tents and got nothing but great reviews on it. I was beaming with excitement that maybe we would go far with this one. The contest ended at 9pm and I cleaned up my station and hoped for the best.
Around 10 it was time to get our meat out to rest before going on the smoker’s for the night. We got our charcoals burning, our smoker’s up to temp, and got our meat on to our Weber Smokey Mountains. The secret to us being able to get some shut eye for the night without having to feed our fire is the BBQ Guru which kept a blower on our coals burnin’ and kept our smoker’s at perfect temp. I was finally able to get some sleep around midnight. The plan was for me to wake up at 4am to season our chicken and get it back in our cooler to be ready for morning. I slept terribly from midnight to 4, but I still had to be a team player and wake up to season our thighs. I felt bad when I found out I over seasoned our chicken. It was fixed, but I still had that bad feeling that it would hurt our chances.
7 am was when all the rush and magic begins. And that will be tomorrow’s post. Come back to see when all hell broke loose at Red, White & BBQ – Westmont Competition.