Well, our fifth comp of the year has come and gone, with mixed results. But regardless of the results, we had a great time!
We hit the road to Arthur at around 1PM on Thursday. It's normally around a three hour drive for us if we go straight through, but we stopped for a late lunch so arrived around 5:30 or so in Arthur. I really like, when I'm able, to arrive the evening before the actual first day of the contest. This allows us to set up at a much less frantic pace, and to relax and enjoy ourselves a bit more. Thursday afternoon I set up the pop-up, and Di set about taking care of the inside while I set up our outdoor setup. (cookers, tables, canopy, etc. Our nearest nighbor Thursday were the good folks from team Yankee Gator. It was an unseasonably warm evening for October, and didn't get much below 45 or so all night!
We slept pretty well, despite the regular freight trains that roll through Arthur on a somewhat regular basis all night long, and I got up around 7:30 and begen to get the smokers prepped for later in the day.
By this time, most of the rest of the teams were rolling in and setting up, ultimately there would be 53 teams in attendance, I believe the most ever for Arthur so far!
In retrospect, I feel like we spent a lot more time on the side categories, sauce, dessert, sausage, and side dish, than we should have, and I think it may have taken my eye off the ball somewhat when it came to the main 4 categories. Lesson learned? Stick to the main BBQ and forget about all the ancillary stuff!
When all was said and done, this was our worst showing this year, in that we had 0 calls, none, nada, zip, for the first time all year.
The upsides, the few there were, were that, in chicken, where we have always struggled, we were 13th of 53, so not a bad effort! The other 3 categories were largely forgettable, and I'll be doing my best to do that, and just dust ourselves off and have at it another day! Pork, where we've been top ten 4 of 4 times before, was 31st. And, having just tasted a bit the Tuesday after, I have to say I can't say why!
But there were high points just the same! Our freind Dan, from the Barbecue Brethren site took the Grand Champion of the backyard category in his first contest effort! We were very happy for him!
And, at the end of the day, it was a beautiful weekend, with great weather, great freinds, and great barbecue! Can't ask for much better!
So new there is one more comp left on our schedule, at Lamb's Farm in Libertyville this weekend. This is one of our favorite comps, in that it supports a really great cause. They help a large number of children and adults with a variety of developmental disabilities to become productive members of society in just so many ways, and they're very successful at it! You can learn much more at their site http://www.lambsfarm.org/
The truck and trailer are still mostly packed from last weekend, so this should be an easy one to prep for. We're going to try and go out on an up note!
More next week!