Sunday, May 10, 2009

Sundrop Country BBQ Cookoff

May 8-9, 2009

Friday morning I found myself driving to pick up Richard & Casa DoRag in one of the wildest electrical storms I have ever seen. Around 5 AM the Nashville sky's were full of lightening & the rumble of thunder. I have never seen such a display! I lost count of the bolts that lit up the skyline. The rain was heavy but luckily the winds were not very strong. I arrived at Richards & we were able to get hooked up before the rain caught up with us. We pulled into the picturesque cook site & began to setup. We tied down everything we could expecting to get hit sometime during the weekend. Like last week in Huntsville the forecast was rain, rain, & more rain!

This would be the 5th weekend out of six we were cookin' BBQ & 2009 would be our 3rd visit to the Sundrop Country BBQ Cookoff. There is a large "Back-Yard" division (cooks only chicken & ribs) as well as 30+ "Pros". It's always good too see our Back Yard friends like Rooster, T's, & Gooby's as well as the rest of our BBQ Family. After meat prep we settled in for some socializin! We were flanked by High on the Hawg & E.M. Azing BBQ. Our friends Jobeaz & Carl Counce of Coldwell Bankers BBQ we also in our neighborhood. We also got to visit with Smokers Wild & Chad Hayden of Moonswiners (2007 Jack Daniels World Champion). Chad was one of the first friends I made in the BBQ community. He was competing in 2006 at the Fiddlin', Brewin' & BarBQ'n @ Opryland Hotel. That was our first contest & Chad was setup across from us. He was kind enough to give us a few tips. Then in 2007 I ran into him again in Benton, KY. Later that year Richard & I decided to stay for the awards at "The Jack". Moonswiners got several calls and eventually took the GC! What a great night that was! A great BBQ memory.

After the "Cooks Meeting" we had some ABTs, pork chops, & baked potatoes. Lou & Buck turned in some incredible smoked salmon for Anything Butt. Gary "Nickelback" finally arrive after a 2 week hiatus and DoRagQ was officially "In Da House"! After dinner we just hung out and socialized. Then it dawned on us, it had not rained since we had arrived! Maybe "Mother Nature" was going to give us a gift for "Mother's Day". More on that later. The rest of the evening was spent listening to the music from the arena & sipping on some "Apple Pie". An occasional "Freebird" was yelled out to carry on the tradition but the band never granted our wish. I guess thats better than the year they did play it & forgot most of the words! What respectable redneck bar-band doesn't know the words to frickin FREEBIRD! The party broke up around 10:45 PM & we all headed off to get some shut eye.

We made it through the night without any rain or winds but daylight did bring cloudy skies. About 7 AM it began so sprinkle & by 10 AM the sprinkles turned into showers. We keep on cooking making the best of the wet conditions. With Gary back we were hittin on all 3 cylinders. He was making boxes while Richard & I did out cookin thang. By noon we were ready for chicken turn in. We had been tweaking our technique & recipie since the beginning of the year & we were happy with the outcome. Our rib box was awesome! One of our best looking boxes we have ever produced. We also thought our ribs were pretty good as well. Our pork had a great taste but our results have been inconsistent. We put together a nice box & thought it was pretty tasty as well. Brisket was a challenge. We thought it was dry & tough so we beat it with a hammer & set it outside in the rain but I thought it was a lost cause. Whats done is done. It's all up to the Judges now.

It did quit raining before turn ins and we even got a peak at the sun every now an again. After turn in we had a few minutes to enjoy a beverage & then it was time to pack it all up! Sure wish there were BBQ Roadies to do this. We managed to get it all packed up and have a few minutes to reflect before awards @ 4 PM. We all thought our chicken was good. Gary predicted "top 5"! We all like the looks & taste of our ribs, Gary predicted "top 10". Again we all thought we had a great looking pork box & we all liked the flavor but pork is hard to predict so Gary had no prediction. A dry tough brisket never scores well so we all felt we would "tank" again no prediction.

It was finally time to "read em & weep"! As we all congregated around the PA system, Jay thanked Linda, Tana, & Mark for being great contest reps. The Back Yard results were announced, Gooby's got some calls. Sorry I can't remember & no results are posted yet. Then it was on to the "Pros"! Wild Bunch Butt Burners took 1st in chicken, Team Top Chick was 1st in ribs, Colonel E's BBQ was 1st in pork, & Charcoal Cowboys took 1st in brisket. Smokers Wild took the overall win with Team Allegro taking 2nd! Congrats! DoRagQ was 5th in chicken (Gary called it), 13th in ribs (actually tied for 11th Gary almost called it), 20th in pork (WTF?) & 6th in brisket! Guess the hammer & rain helped! DoRagQ came in 8th overall! No complaint here! rounding out the overall top ten starting with 3rd was Swiggin Pig, 4th Lotta Bull, 5th Team Top Chick, 6th Big River BBQ, 7th Jobeaz Blazin Butts & Wings, 8th DoRagQ, 9th High on the Hawg, & 10th Smokey Mountain Smokers! Congrats to all. Thanks to Jay, the event staff, & contest reps that helped put on the contest. Special thanks to Sundrop & Wallmart for supporting BBQ. We appreciate your participation. We are looking forward to coming back in 2010. Maybe less the rain & mud!

As I look back on the last 6 weeks, I would have to say we are happy with our results. We have improved in some areas and still need some work in others. It's harder that you may think to produce 4 categories that 6 judges all think are good. Lots of factors enter into a finished product, the quality of meat, rubs, technique, equipment, organization, weather, cookers, & recipes all play important parts. When its all said & done, if you turned in the best you could on that day & had a good time, you have won the battle. You may not get the prize but hey, you got to cook some BBQ & be with friends & family, what more could you want?
We are taking a short break from competing. We need too clean up, get some rest, do some "Honey-Do's", & spend some time with family. We are looking forward to cooking in Haleyville, AL June 12-13, Franklin, KY June 19-20, & Lawrenceburg, TN June 26-27. Come by & visit! We love company! Until then, keep the heat low & cook it slow!
Click the link below for pictures of the Sundrop Country BBQ Cookoff

Sunday, May 03, 2009

DoRag in the News!

Hey check this out! We got some press coverage & it is not for a criminal offence (although I have cooked some BBQ that I should have been arrested for)! Click here for the link!

Whistle Stop BBQ Festival

May 1-2, 2009
Huntsville, AL

Let's just say that's pit would have felt right at home at this contest. It rained, & rained, & rained! There was water & mud everywhere but it didn't dampen the spirits of 62 pro cookers and 60+ backyard teams as they competed in the 2009 Whistle Stop Festival & Rocket City BBQ. This was DoRagQ's first time to visit the Huntsville contest and we were excited to compete against many of the top teams and certainly the largest contest so far this year. Due to a work obligation I would not arrive until Friday evening. Richard & our good friend Buck of High on the Hawg were able to get "Casa DoRag" pulled down on Thursday night to secure a good spot. Buck & Lou would not be competing at this contest so they volunteered to help and hang out! Richard, Buck, & Lou arrived on Thursday & got set up in time to attend a Mexican buffet with all you can handle Margaritas! From what I hear Richard & Blindog have a "Good Time". But you know the saying, "What happens in Huntsville....".

Richard & Buck were at it early Friday morning despite the rains and got meat inspected & prepped. All the hard work was done! All I had to do was to show up. Hey I'm kinda liking this setup but showing up wasn't as easy as it sounds. After work I set off for the 100+mile trip from Nashville to Huntsville. Once I arrived in Huntsville & found the festival site, finding my way in was a different story. Glad I had my pills with me as my frustration level was building. Buck & Richard finally found me and got me directed to the parking lot that "was not on the map". I even asked directions breaking one of the basic "Man-Rules". The Dude I asked was more lost than I was! Once I was at Casa DoRag my stress & frustration level was diminished by a cold beer. Soon it was time for the "Cooks-Meeting" but it was cancelled due to the heavy downpour. There wasn't much socializing going on, most were keeping dry by staying at their cook sites. Once there was a break in the rain we got a quick tour. We ran into Barry of Swiggin Pig, & Melinda & Mike of J-Mack Cookers. They were set up across from Voncil & Joe of Smokey Mountain Smokers. We also visited with Kathy & John of WBBB, & met Bubba & Shannon of Bub-Ba-Q. JoBeaz Blazin Butts, & House of Q were set up close to Casa DoRag. We also saw old friends Bobby of Team Bobby-Q, & George & Crew of The Dead End Society. It was great to see our BBQ Family even in the rain! The night was really quiet we mostly sat in Casa DoRag & visited with Lou & Buck. Later Joe & Voncil dropped by for a visit and a great time was had by all. With "quiet time" approaching we all decided it was time to turn in so after I tucked Richard in & read him a story I set off on my own to see what was going on, surely there was somebody having some fun. Sure-enough J-Mack had a trailer full of Kentuckians & they were having a good time! Mary Jo & Terry Stinett & friends from Owensboro, KY had come down to judge. It was great seeing them and laughing about our "past" experiences. They party "big" & when them & the DoRag Crew get together it is a LARGE TIME for sure! I had a midnight curfew so I headed back to Casa DoRag & settled in for the night.

Saturday brought the hopes of clear skies but Mother Nature was not going to cooperate. We had short showers all morning but did see some gaps with no rain. Our cook went off without a hitch except for a broken electric knife. Thanks to Swiggin Pig for the loaner! We got all 4 + desert categories turned in on time and all we had to do was wait & pack up cuz they were saying the "big storms" were headed our way. So we sprang into action & got most everything packed up before the 4 PM awards ceremony. About 10 minutes till we started over to the awards when the rain intensified! We were soaked! (note to self....put umbrella in trailer).

Blindog did a fine job as the awards emcee. The place was packed and loud. When the dust (mud) settled DoRagQ finished a respectable 16th overall out of 62 teams! We had a 17th in chicken, a 13th in ribs, a 30th in pork, and a 16th place brisket. Taking top honors was Bub-Ba-Q with House of Q a close 2nd overall. DoRag friend's Smokey Mountain Smokers finished 3rd, WBBB was 4th, JoBeaz was 5th (great job), Big & Twig was 6th, J-Mack was 10th, & Swiggin Pig was 13th. Great showings in a very talented field. A shout out to category winners JoBeaz for chicken , Bub-Ba-Q for ribs, Smokey Mountain Smokers for Pork, & Killer's Dirty Pit BBQ for brisket. Oh I almost forgot! Lou fixed a desert for us to turn in and we finished 10th! they were great Lou! Thanks!

OK, in spite of the rains we had a great time. I can see why this is the premiere contest in Alabama. Lots of people, music, food, and good times. DoRagQ will defiantly return next year and maybe stay the whole weekend (if the weather ever clears up). To all my BBQ Family it was great to see you again. Hope you all have a safe return home. For DoRagQ, thanks to Brenda & Terry for their help & support. We love you guys & look forward to many more good times with you. Richard, again you are the Do in DoRagQ. Thanks so much for your friendship & your desire to cook good BBQ. I couldn't & wouldn't want to do this without you. Gary (Nicklback)...we missed you. Hope you can join us next week in Pulaski. next is the Sundrop Festival BBQ in Pulaski, TN. In 2007 we got our 1st two calls there, in 2008 we fell flat on our pork butts. What will happen in 2009? I don't know but one things for sure, DoRagQ will have a good time, see our BBQ family, & get to cook BBQ! What else matters? Hope to see you there, drop by & give us a shout! Until next week, remember, BBQ is not just for breakfast anymore!

For a complete rundown on the contest results click here