Monday, August 18, 2008

Amazin' Blazin' BBQ Cookoff, Lebanon, TN

August 15-16, 2008
Several weeks ago I found out the Lebanon contest was full. No problem right? I had sent my entry & check in right? WRONG! I had forgotten.....Major Bummer. We called and pleaded our case but rules are rules even for DoRagQ. We found ourselves first on the waiting list. Hey at least we got a first in something. Fast forward to last weekend (8/10/08). No one had cancelled. I called Richard & Gary and told them to make other plans. It was looking like we would be watching from the sidelines. I received a voicemail on Monday around 2:30 PM from a number I did not recognize. As I listened the message said one of the competitors had fallen ill and we were in! While we wish no ill fate on any competitors, it felt good knowing we were in one of the most prestigious and competitive contest in these here parts! DoRagQ would be In Da House!

After contacting Richard & Gary the rest of the week was insane. Work was crazy and every night I seemed to have something work related taking priority over the BBQ. Somehow we managed to get our shit together and Richard & I headed to Lebanon Thursday evening. We arrived and were rewarded with a prime spot right inside the gate. During setup Ziggy & Ole Dave of Ribs & Bibs from Indiana came over and invited us over for pizza cooked in their smoker. That sounded great to us and boy it was some mighty fine pizza! Paul Hood of came over for a slice & invited us over to Music City Pig Pals site for a taste of Dueling Margarita Machines! Both Paul & Lee (MC Pig Pals) had set up their machines and were churning out Margaritas & Jackaritas for all the early attendees. It was great seeing our BBQ Family in a non-competitive atmosphere. It was like a Who's Who of BBQ. DrBBQ Ray Lampe was there as well as Carolyn Wells of the KCBS, Dan of Rubmasters (Go Predators), David Roper of Jack Daniels, Kathy & John of Wild Bunch Butt Burners, Joe & Voncile of Smokey Mountain Smokers, and our hosts Lee & Bobbie McWright & Paul Hood & many others. It was especially great seeing Mike & Melinda of J-Mack Cookers. We had not seen them since the Christmas party last December. After some socializing Richard & I headed off to Wally World for some last minute provisions. We returned and had a few more Adult Beverages and hit the hay.

By-the-way, the weather was fantastic! Last year we saw temperatures of 100+ this year however we were greeted with high 80's and mild almost cool nights. Perfect weather! Friday morning after breakfast with original DoRagQ member Jeff Edwards we settled in to get prepped. Around mid-morning Buck & Lou of High on the Hawg arrived and set up next to us. The rest of the day was spent prepping for contest & supper. Gary arrived with the "Green Stuff" and we continued our Friday night tradition in the DoRagQ Camp of smoking some Pork Chops & Taters. We threw in some ABTs (Atomic Buffalo Turds) & some fresh sliced tomatoes from the DoRag garden (Thanks to Mrs. DoRag). We were joined for supper by Mark Walker of Wireless Plus, Buck, Lou, & Mickey of High on the Hawg, Ziggy & Ole Dave of Ribs & Bibs, Jennifer Watson (1/2 of Long Dawgs Blue Smoke) and whoever else came along looking hungry. Late arriving guests Amber, LouAnn, & Jeff Edwards showed up after the Titans game. Friday night seems to fly by & soon it was time to fire up the FEs. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention we added another FE100 to our arsenal. More on that on a later post.

This contest takes place on the opening weekend of the Wilson County Fair, one of the premiere fairs in Tennessee & the nation. The sounds of the fair make it a special atmosphere. It can also make for a long night. Seems the roosters have their biological clocks messed up and started crowing about 2 AM! Maybe they were mourning their soon to be smoked cousins. Little did they know how close they came to joining them!

Saturday morning found us behind in getting our briskets & butts up to temperature due to a timing miss-calculation. We came up with a alternative plan that seemed to get us back on track. A decision was made to try some different rub on our chicken. A decision that we hoped would take our average chicken to greater heights. BIG MISTAKE! The lesson we learned was not to change anything at a contest without testing it first in the backyard. So without further A-Dew (how do you spell that anyway?) here are the results: Out of 54 teams DoRagQ finished 22nd. We had a disappointing but deserved 48th in chicken, & a respectable 19th in brisket. We did ourselves proud with a 9th in pork and 2nd in ribs! We actually were tied for first but lost the tiebreaker. WOW! What a turnaround from last years 2nd from last finish in ribs to 2nd from first. (Did I say that right?) I am still floating in the clouds! Congrats to Adams Rib & Wild Bunch Butt Burners for finishing in Grand Champion & Reserve Grand Champion. Other notables were Blinddog's Outlaw BBQ Gang in 5th, Team Allegro in 7th, Music City Pig Pals in 8th, & Ribs & Bibs finishing in 10th.

I want to thank Gary & Richard for their continued support and ideas. They are the "Do" in DoRagQ. I also have to give a shout out to their families for letting them hang out with a person of my questionable character. Props also go out to Rob Marlow (thanks for the hook-up), Jen & Dan Watson, Lou & Buck Buchannon, Joe & Voncile Amore, Bobbie & Lee McWright, Debbie & Mike Davis, Melinda & Mike Ford, and all of the others who have helped us along our BBQ journey. Each one of you have given us encouragement, tips, & ideas that has helped us along the way. Of course I could not do any of this without Mrs. DoRagQ (Kathy) thanks for believing in me & giving me the courage & opportunity to pursue my passions.

PS. Sorry Shotgun Shorty, maybe next time....I love you Gramps.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Gary Silvey's BBQ Cook Off Clarksville, TN

July 11-12, 2008
After a hot but enjoyable 4th of July at the lake with Kathy (wife), CoCo (dog #1), Beau (dog #2), Kathy & Gary (neighbors), & Jeff, LouAnn, & Amber (friends) we prepared to enter Gary Silvey's BBQ Cook Off in Clarksville, TN for the second year. It also marked the one year anniversary of Richard joining DoRagQ. He deserves a trophy for putting up with me & Gary for a year! Richard & I headed out on Thursday late afternoon to get set up. There were only a hand full of teams on site when we arrived. Music City Pig Pals, Team Allegro, Big Briq BBQ, & new friends Getting Piggy With It joined us as early arrivals. After setup Richard & I settled down for our usual Tunes & Brews! We always enjoy having a few cold ones & listening to "Classic Country" on my IPOD. After a few rounds Richard began sounding alot like Jim Reeves! I knew then it was time to turn in for the night.

Friday brought more heat as we began to prepare for inspection. Gary had stayed behind to pick up the "Green Stuff" & would join us later. After getting tagged (inspected) Richard began prepping chicken & ribs while I concentrated on brisket & pork butts. During prep our good friends Lou & Buck of High on the Hawg pulled in behind us. After some socializing we helped them get situated & proceeded to finish up our prepping. By early afternoon we had worked up quite an appetite so we all piled in Buck & Lou's truck & headed for Backyard Burgers. We then made stops at WallyWorld & Food Lion to pick up some last minute supplies. I can't seem to remember much but I somehow ended up with a "Noodle". More on that later.... Back at the cook site Gary soon joined us and DoRagQ was finally IN DA HOUSE!

Friday evening is a great time to visit with friends and make some new ones. We seem to have made it a tradition to throw some pork chops, jalapeno sausage, & potatoes in the smoker and have a "pot-luck" supper. Paul Hood of Big Briq BBQ brought out the Margarittaville Margarita Machine & the party began. We were joined by our friends Mark Walker of Wireless Plus (a DoRagQ sponsor) & Chip Hooper (a future sponsor) who drove up after Chip mowed his grass! (Glad he didn't weed-eat).

Our neighbors Son Seekers, Bobby & Lee McWright of Music City Pig Pals & Shane & Milissa of Smokin' Hose Grillin' Team & their crew joined in on the fun. Good food, good music, good friends & good fun! Time flies when you are having fun & before long it was "Quiet Time". So with the pits up to temperature & briskets & butts rubbed, injected, marinaded, & blessed we commenced to smokin!

It was a long, hot night & we had our share of trouble. My DigiQ was on the blink. Paul Hood came to the rescue. Paul recently became a BBQ Guru dealer & had a few spares. After a quick pit stop to change out the DigiQ we were back on track smokin. I tried to get some shut eye but I never seem to relax during a contest. I keep thinking about what we have to do next. I did manage a few hours of sleep before daybreak. Gary got up & started making boxes while Richard & I manned the pits. Saturday is much different than Friday night. Everyone has their "Race-Face" on. There is a more serious attitude in the air. Time to "get-er-dun".

Turn in went as planned. No surprises, no catastrophes, no mess ups. We had some doubts but overall we were satisfied with what we turned in. The judges however viewed our turn in below average. Out of 16 we finished 11th in chicken, 9th in ribs, 8th in pork, & 10th in brisket, with an overall finish of 11th. Disappointing to say the least. We always strive to be in the top 50%. Anything less is viewed as un-successful. On a positive note, we did not finish DAL (Dead Ass Last) & know one got sick (that we know of). Our friends had much better results! Paul Hood of Big Briq BBQ finished Grand Champion with a 3rd in chicken, 6th in ribs, 6th in pork, & 1st in brisket! This was Paul's first GC in KCBS competition. Paul has competed & won on the MIM (Memphis in May) circuit.

Finishing in the Reserve Grand Champion spot was none other than our friends Lou & Buck of High on the Hawg! Their finishes of 2nd in chicken, 2nd in ribs, 4th in pork, & 11th in brisket gave them their first ever RGC! Congrats! We are proud of & for you!

Were we disappointed? HELL YES! Did we have a good time? HELL YES! Are we gonna keep trying? HELL YES! Stay tuned cuz there is something new coming our way that we hope will help us be a better more consistant team.

Note: I hope the organizers take a long look at their facilities. I would hate to pass up a contest less than 45 miles from my front door but if they don't make some changes we may have to pass this one by in 2009.