Friday, October 30, 2009

Goats, Music, & More! Who's Your Naaaanny!

October 9-10, 2009
The Goats, Music, More BBQ Contest has always been a favorite of the DoRagQ Gang since 2007. Richard had much to do with starting & organizing this contest in 2007 & 2008. In 2009 he decided to "retire" from contest organizing & concentrate on competing having a good time. The contest is part of the Goats, Music, & More Festival which celebrates the popularity of "Goats" in the area. They are also known for their outstanding entertainment "Music" the BBQ is part of the "More"! It is your typical "Fall Festival" with food vendors, arts, crafts, & entertainment for the whole family. And the best part is FREE ADMISSION! Nice to see there is still some family entertainment that does not cost an arm a leg. Lewisburg is also Richard's hometown, so we took Casa DoRag down Wednesday & got set up. I was having  a busy week & was not sure what time I would be able to get away on Friday. Lewisburg is about an hours drive from Nashville so I would head down when done for the day. Lewisburg would make the eighth week out of nine that we have been on the contest circuit.  Lewisburg is normally the last contest of the year for DoRagQ. The forecast leading up to the contest was the same as we have seen for the past several weeks...RAIN! Now that we have Casa DoRag the rain does not seem to bother us as much as it once did but it would sure be nice to have clear skies dry ground. Never the less we were looking foreword to cookin some "Q"! We were also looking forward to adding some additional "DoRag Members" for this weekend. CBJ Nancy Strong had asked to cook with the DoRagQ Gang to fulfill her KCBS Master Judge Certification & KCBS Contest Rep "Extraordinaire" Ron "Go Bama" Harwell had some how talked me into letting him cook with us as well! Ron has become a great friend & since he is usually fulfilling his duties as a KCBS Rep we were looking forward to hanging out with him "off duty".

Richard & Gary got things going on Friday & by the time I arrived everything was inspected, prepped, injected, marinated, rubbed, wrapped, & on ice! Nice! That gave me some "socializin time" to see our BBQ Friends such as Mr. Pete of Bean Bandits, The Swifts of Wild Bunch Butt Burners, David of Gettin' Piggy With It, Linda & JC of JC's Pit Crew, Dan & Jen of Long Dawgs, & Brenda & Terry of High on the Hawg to name a few. Before long it was time for the Cook's Meeting. In lew of "Goodie Bags" the Rotary Club was cookin a catfish supper & providing Saturday morning breakfast for all the teams! Nice touch! So after the Cook's meeting concluded we did more socializin waiting on the catfish. Richard was asked to lend his expertise frying the fish. After a short wait we were treated to fried catfish, hush puppies, & hot slaw. What a feast! After dinner it was time to start the "Big Meats" smokin while Gary started makin the boxes. Even with the weather everything was going according to plan! Cool, more time for more socializin! It was a pleasure to sit down with Nancy & get to know her better. I also had a great time "bossin" Ron around. Hey there are no "free rides" with the DoRag Gang. You gotta pull your weight! All kiddin aside, Ron was eager to help we all enjoyed his company as well.

As the night went on, things were "low key" compared to previous years. The entertainment was country music group Shenandoah. They moved in from the main stage to a small covered pavilion that was packed! The weather did not stop the locals from coming out & taking advantage of the "free" entertainment. We all just hung out around the fire pit & took chugs of Apple Pie. Terry & Mary Jo of Shadetree Cooks came over & Victor of GPWI (Gettin Piggy With It) made it down from ATL with his friends. A good time was had by all.  Several had a better time than the rest of us (you know who you are). Before long it was "Quiet Time" & we all turned in for the night.

Saturday morning arrived as did our breakfast. We were also treated to a rousing rendition of the Star Spangled Banner courtesy of Rodney & John of House of Q. Very inspiring! So after we wiped the sleep from our eyes, it was time to get serious about this BBQ thang. Nancy & Ron did a great job helping out where they could. I was looking forward to their opinions on our product. Ron did a impromptu interview with the DoRagQ Gang for an article for the American Bass Anglers in between us butting on the ribs & chicken. By mid morning everything was in full swing. The big meats were up to temperature & the ribs & chicken were coming along fine. As we prepped our boxes for turn in, Nancy commented how she was amazed at the amount of effort we put in to producing a quality product. As I explained, this is true with most teams competing. You have to pay attention to the details. The smallest thing can be the difference in getting a call or not. We have been fortunate to get some great advice from many of those teams & we strive to pay attention to the details & remain as consistent as possible. Sometimes it works & sometimes it don't. I hope Nancy tells her fellow Judges about her experiences.

We managed to get everything boxed & turned in on time. As we usually do, we sat down & discussed our product but this time we had Nancy & Ron's input as well. Both Nancy & Ron commented the chicken was a bit salty, we agreed. They liked the ribs, we thought they we good but not great. They really liked the pork, we did too. Nancy said our brisket was possible the best she has ever had! WOW what a complement. We thought it was good, but not as good as some we have cooked. So after cleaning up & packing Casa DoRag all that was left was to hear the results. So we made our way over to the main stage. Wild Bunch Butt Burners kicked it off by taking the win in chicken, with High on the Hawg coming in 2nd. Seems Nancy & Ron were right as we brought up the rear in 20th place in chicken. In ribs, Jiggy Piggy took the win, with Long Dawgs/Harvest Moon placing 2nd (way to go Jan & Dan)! House of Q, Jc's Pit Crew, & High on the Hawg rounded out the top five. DoRag managed a 9th place. I was really hoping for a good finish in pork as we have been struggling a bit. They called High on the Hawg in 5th, Wild Bunch Butt Burners in 4th, Long Dawgs/Harvest Moon in 3rd, & DoRagQ in 2nd! Holy Shit! That's cool! Congrats to "Legendary" Tony Stone of S & S for taking the win in pork by 2/1000th of a point! In brisket Governor's BBQ took the win, with House of Q, 9 Toes, Butts a Blazin', & Long Dawgs/Harvest Moon, rounding out the top five. The DoRagQ Gang managed to pull off a 10th place finish in brisket. The overall win went to House of Q! Those guys can cook! With Gary & Roxy of Governor's BBQ taking RGC! Rounding out the top ten were Wild Bunch Butt Burners, Long Dawgs/Harvest Moon, Big River BBQ, Jiggy Piggy, S & S, High on the Hawg, General Porktitioners, & DoRagQ! Oh & Jiggy Piggy took the win in Goat over last year's champion Long Dawgs/Harvest Moon! Congratulations to all!

Ok, a top ten overall finish, no complaints here!  We seem to be on the right track with pork. I know what I did to make the chicken too salty.  Ribs & brisket are consistant,  Overall a good effort!  I'm happy!  What I will remember most about this contest is the fun we had getting to know Nancy & Ron.  I want to thank them both for giving us the honor to cook & spend time with them.  They are both very special & have an "open inviatation" to cook with DoRagQ anytime!  Next year I will have the dis-honor of wearing a Alabama DoRag because of a friendly wager that Mr. Harwell & I had.  12-10 ain't bad boys....we'll get 'em next year!  We have a week off & then its off the Lunchburg for "The Jack".  The DoRagQ Gang has been asked by Bobbie & Lee McWright of Music City Pig Pals to assist them!  Very cool!  We will be rootin for them as well as all of our BBQ Friends & Family.  Until then, keep the fat side down & the coals hot!  See ya!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Smokin' on the Square, Gallatin, TN

October 2-3, 2009

2009 would mark our fourth appearance at Smokin' on the Square in Gallatin, TN. Gallatin is located 25 minutes North of Nashville & very close to home. A nice change from the two+hour drives we have been making recently. Gary & I loaded Casa DoRag after work on Thursday & headed to Gallatin to get set up. Being so close I planned on working Friday so Gary & Richard would get things started & I would catch up with them later in the day. Work went rather smoothly & I found my way to Gallatin by late afternoon. As usual Richard & Gary had everything prepped & waiting. Good friends Brenda & Terry of High on the Hawg we parked next to us & the combination team of Pig Smokers in Paradise & Light My Fire (Pigs on Fire) were on the other side of Casa DoRag. It was great to see April & Alan of Pig Smokers as we hadn't seen much of them this year. Several regulars were noticeable absent from Gallatin this year as several were competing at the American Royal in Kansas City & a few were cooking at a new contest in Springfield, KY. We wish them luck & hope they come back next year. We spent the rest of the afternoon socializing with our BBQ Family until it was time for the Cook's Meeting which is held at Grecian's Italian Restaurant across the street from the contest site. The organizer "Greater Gallatin" always has a "Cocktail Hour" with horse-overies (can't spell hors d'oeuvres!) Very nice spread!

After the Cook's Meeting it was time to get bizzy prepping dinner. Our good friends from Wireless Plus/Motorola always come visit on Friday night for pork chops, sausage, smoked potatoes, & salad. It's our way of saying "Thanks" for their support during the year. Also in attendance were our new friends from Kattawa KY, Robin & Shawn Tabor. Robin was judging on Saturday & Shawn was in search of truck parts! It was great hangin out with them & "brainstorming" how to make Kattawa's contest even better in 2010. Gary brought the "Fire Pit" & we all enjoyed a chug of Apple Pie while sitting around the fire & socializin'. Once the "Pie" was gone our company wasn't far behind. Makes you wonder if they just come to "chug"???? Gary headed home (20 minute drive) & Richard & I turned in for the night. Great night, no casualties & we somehow managed to get the pork & brisket in the FE100 in spite of all the socializin'.

After a great night & some shut-eye 4 AM rolled around & it was time to take temps & get the chicken & ribs ready. There is something special about a contest early in the morning. The smell of hickory, the occasional sound of a fire box door closing, the screeching sound of FIRE TRUCKS! Did I mention that we are right next to the Gallatin Fired Department? But hey, I am sure they would rather not be trotting off @ 4AM either. So after Richard had his coffee & I had my mornin' Coors Light we commenced to gettin serious! Gary arrived a short time later & we went over our game plan. After 15 plus contests this year, things are finally falling into place. It's almost like we know what we are doing! Scary! The rest of the morning went smoothly as we managed not to burn anything. We dunked, sliced, pulled, & managed to get everything turned in on time. The consensus was our chicken, ribs, & brisket were in the ballpark. Not great but decent, maybe top 10. Pork again was a big ? We knew it was not "award winning" but were hoping it wouldn't finish DAL (Dead Ass Last). So after a quick rest we began packing up Casa DoRag. I still like the idea of "BBQ Roadies". Let me know if you are interested, great benefits, all the BBQ & Beer you want. All you have to do is unpack, wash dishes, & load up when finished & you too can be part of the DoRagQ Gang! Send your resume, immediate openings!

After loading up it was time to "read 'em & weep". We all headed over to the awards to close the chapter on another "Smokin' on the Square". The Dessert category was announced first. The top two teams both finished with perfect scores! Bobbie & Lee McWright of Music City Pig Pals & David Wilson of Gettin' Piggy With It both finished with a "180" with Gettin Piggy With It taking the tiebreaker! Congrats! In the chicken category, Gary Roberts of Governors BBQ took the win with High on the Hawg in 2nd. Rounding out the top five were Pork of the North, Adams Rib, & Critter Cookers. DoRagQ managed a 6th! Cool! The winner in the rib category was Charcoal Cowboys, with MC Pig Pals,, High on the Hawg, & The Algood BBQ Pit Team in 2nd through 5th. DoRagQ snuck in again in 6th. So far we were right on track with our predictions, now for pork. The Algood BBQ Pit Team took the win with High on the Hawg, Smokin Butt Crew,, & Pork of the North 2nd through 5th. DoRagQ was 16th! AGHHHHHHHH! In brisket, Team Allegro continued their "Hott-Streak" by taking the win with Smokin Butt Crew in 2nd. The Ash Holes followed in 3rd, with Governors BBQ in 4th. The DoRagQ Gang came in 5th! Wow the calls were all over the board, who was gonna take the win? Past Smokin' on the Square Champions Pork of the North managed to pull off the RGC with Paul Hood of taking the overall GC! Way to go! Brenda & Terry of High on the Hawg finished in 3rd with Adams Rib in 4th, & Governors BBQ in 5th. The DoRagQ Gang managed to place just inside the top 10 taking 9th place overall!

Time for reflection.....Did we finish DAL?....No..... Did we get our name called?....Yes.... Did we spend time with our BBQ Family?....Yes.... Did we have a good time?....Yes... Do we play for the Titans?....Hell No..... OK then, call it a successful cook! Gallatin is always one of our favorite contests. Arlie & Greater Gallatin do a fantastic job taking care of us & making sure the event is a success. There is aways a great crowd & lots of vendors & performers. If you are a Team, Judge, or just want to have a nice day with the family at a Fall Festival be sure to make plans to attend next year's Smokin' on the Square. DoRagQ will be there. Come by & visit a spell, take you shoes off, sip some "Pie" we would love to see you there! Until then we gotta get ready for the Goats, Music, & More BBQ Contest next week in Lewisburg, TN. That's always a wild one. I better make another batch of Apple Pie! See ya there!

American Bass Anglers BBQ Cookoff, Florence, AL

September 25-26, 2009

Let me begin by saying "THANKS" to all the DoRagQ Fans & Friends for the kind words we received for winning our first contest last week in Guntersville Alabama. It is an experience that I will not forget. I hope every team has the opportunity to experience the emotions felt in winning a contest. But that was last week. this week is another town, another contest, another victory or disappointment. Either way it goes you can't dwell on it for very long. Just do what you do & hope you don't make anyone sick! Ok enough about that.......

Late September found the DoRagQ Gang heading to Florence Alabama for the third leg of the American Bass Anglers Early Times BBQ Contest. For the 7th weekend in a row we have been cooking or judging. We have experienced both the highs & lows of competitive cooking (scoring wise). Through it all we strived to maintain our consistency. The one thing that was really consistant was the RAIN! Once again we faced another weekend with rain in the forecast. We barely get things dried out & they are wet again! We are thankful for Casa DoRag! At least we can get in out of the weather for a few minutes & stay dry. The rain does not seem to effect our cookers either. The FE100s keep on burnin & smokin like Champs!

As the contest unfolded we began our normal ritual of prepping meat. No surprises everything just as it has been for weeks. Chicken looked good, ribs were meaty, nice butts, & the brisket looked awesome. Time to relax & do some socializin! Making the rounds we ran into many members of our BBQ Family. JoBeaz Blazin Butts & Wings, High on the Hawg, Delta Smoke,Gettin Piggy With It, Team Top Chick, Lotta Bull, House of Q, Smokey Mountain Smokers, & Butts, Bellies, & Buddies just to name a few. It was great seeing everyone & a few we hadn't seen in a while. We also caught up with many of our ABA Friends such as Kevin Rake, Debra Talley, David & Chris Hagood, & Morris Sheehan. It was great catching up with them. Soon it was time for the Cook's Meeting. KCBS Reps Tana Shupe & Ron Harwell lived up to their reputation conducting the meeting & making sure everyone was on the same page. With the "Biz" out of the way it was time for some chow! A Mexican dinner was provided by one of the teams, & I am sorry but I don't remember who they were! It was fantastic & the Margaritas ROCKED! THANKS SO MUCH! I hope to find out who it was so I can thank them properly....maybe a little Apple Pie! After dinner we hung out with John & Rodney of House of Q, Jim of Butts Bellies & Buddies, & David & Pam of Gettin Piggy With It & drank Apple Pie! We even managed to get Kevin Rake & "Mo" himself to take a chug! I knew it was time for bed when the "Disco" music started playing. So it was off to Casa DoRag to get some shut-eye.

We awoke Saturday to the pitter patter of raindrops falling on our roof. Yes Mother Nature decided to mess with us and she wasn't foolin around. I thought we might need a boat to get to turn ins. Somehow we managed to get everything done, boxed, & turned in on time. Then the rain stopped! At least we could pack up without gettin wet! As usual Gary, Richard, & I had a few minutes to reflect on our product and we all thought it was consistent with what we had been turning in the past few contest. I have to admit, the thought a winning brisket for the third week in a row did pass through my mind, not to mention the prospect of winning back-to-back contests! Oh but hold on just a dang minute.........BBQ can be such a cruel mistress! We went from singing Queen's "We Are The Champions" to The Little River Band's "Lonesome Looser"! It was not to be as we did not hear DoRagQ's name called during the entire awards except we asked to "Move our truck"! As I said in the beginning, you can't dwell on the good or the bad too long! I just hope we didn't make anyone sick!

Congrats to Butts, Bellies, & Buddies for taking 1st in chicken, Team Top Chick for top honors in ribs, Jiggy Piggy 1st in pork, & E.M. Azing BBQ taking the win in brisket. The overall win went to E.M. Azing BBQ with Team Top Chick taking RGC! Great finish! Other notables were House of Q in 3rd, Jiggy Piggy in 4th, & Butts, Bellies, & Buddies rounding out the top five. The DoRagQ gang managed a 14th overall with a 14th in chicken, 19th in ribs, 10th in pork, & 12th in brisket. Not our best effort but hey, at least we had a great time! But it did make for a rather long drive home. So as I close this post, I look forward to next week at Smokin' on the Square in Gallatin TN. We will go home, dry out, re-stock, & look forward to seeing our BBQ Family once again.

Best wishes to Jiggy Piggy, Lotta Bull, Swiggin Pig, Team Top Chick, & Wild Bunch Butt Burners as they make their way to Kansas City to compete in the American Royal. Good luck & safe travels.