Well, we had a week off after Westmont, but not a weekend. Saturday, 6/2, we cooked lunch for a group of folks at the church across the street from us, who were having an "all church fix-up day" They have been kind enough to allow us to keep our trailer there, as I don't have a good spot in our yard for it yet. We're working on it, but some other things have come up that may take precidence. More on that later.
After the church lunch, we also had a party for 60 folks we had BBQ and sides for, so it was a busy day.
The week of 6/3-7, I worked Mon-Wed, and Thursday, we finished packing the trailer, and headed to downtown St. Charles, IL. There's a nice little grassy park right at the intersection of Illinois street and 1st avenue, along the Fox River. That was to be our home for the next two nights and days.
We got set up easily enough, and were happy to have been early arrivals. There were a LOT of teams who came in the next day, and shoehorning into thier sites, for some anyway, became a bit of a puzzle. But all in all, Kevin, the organizer, and his crew did a pretty good job, considering this was a first time event! There were 29 teams total, and I'm not sure how many in the amatuer comp on Sunday, as we had to leave. (My niece's graduation/birthday party was Sunday afternoon, and we provided food)
Once we got settled in Thursday, we started a little fire in the fire pit (a first for us, as we hadn'g previously had space for it) and had a nice chat with Ty, the night security person for the event. Great guy, not from the immediate area, but very freindly and helpful!
Saturday morning, I got up and started staging tables and such where I wanted them, got my meats inspected early, and set about prepping for the evenings start of cooking. The bugs in the morning were unbelievable! A thick blanket of them seemed to be everywhere. At some point, I think someone said they were just called river bugs. They didn't bite, and didn't swarm food, they were just...everywhere! Along with the BBQ competition, in or around the same park, there was an event called DockDogs. ( http://www.dockdogs.com/ ) This was a lot of fun to watch, and at one point, I realized one of the participants was a coworker of mine, who started with my company the same week I did, some 14 years ago! (Hope you did well Scott!)
So, before I share pics from the event, I forgot to ever really post pics of the camper, so here are a few...
Those were from before Westmont, when we were getting things set up. The thing on the bed is a soft sided portable kennel for Ember. Turns out we haven't needed it yet! She's a good pup!
Anyway, I digress, let's get back to St. Charles! After getting my meat inspected (most of which I still needed to butcher) I decided to have a look at the bag of green leaf, and the one of parsley that I'd purchased at a restaurant supply store on the way. Ugh! Parsley looked good, but the lettuce was turning black, and slimy! I could have gotten out to a store with the truck at that point, but decided to walk across the street to a grocery there, and found enough decent produce to fill my needs! EZPZ!
So now we could set about finishing prep, visiting with old freinds, making new ones, and just enjoying the day! It was warm, so I'd connected the camper to the generator, as we only had 20A service from the venue. Water was a challenge also, as it needed to be toted from a fireplug attached faucet across the park from us. Fortunately, I'd loaded up 40-50 gallons (going by the tank indicators) to bring along, since we figured it might be a challenge otherwise. That got us through dishes, handwashing, etc. Until right after turn in, when the water ran out! So, although we'd hoped for a shower before awards, no such luck! We got almost everything washed though, all but 2 knives, and a cutting board.
I'm noticing that I'm kind of skirting the actual turn in, so I should go there...
I was extremely happy with our chicken. It is something unusual, that I have never seen as a judge, and although this wasn't the first time we tried it, it was our best effort yet. At least in my opinion. A similar box at Westmont got us 25th of 66th at Westmont, but here, despite a better presentation, spot on taste and texture, it got us 20th of 29. Not pretty!
Ribs, well, I figured we'd screwed the pooch on ribs. I ended up overcooking them, and, although they did taste good to me, they were tending toward the much side, and it was all I could do to get some decent looking bones in the box! Oddly, they squeaked in to the top half, at 14th of 29! Pork was our best of the day, although I can't figure why! The taste and texture were good, but lordy, the box!!! I thought it was a nightmare, but Diane thought it would be ok. It got 4 9's (and 2 7's???) for appearance, 2 9's, 2 8's, a 7, and a 6 for taste (I don't understand such far apart scores, and was good enough to place 6th overall. No money for 6 and down though!
Brisket I knew we'd messed up. I made a HUGE mistake, going by temp instead of feel, and my brisket was a bit underdone. A dissapointing 24th of 29. Big fall from 3rd 2 weeks before! All in all, a good weekend though. We had fun, and my sister and brother in law came out from Michigan to see the contest Saturday, and then surprise my brother and niece by showing up for her party on Sunday.
I'll end this post with a few other photos of the contest. I alluded in the first paragraph about something else going on, I'll elaborate in a future entry. Thanks for looking!
Oh...BTW! congrats to QUAU and MBURS, Grand and Reserve grand champs, and also to Dan, of team Big Daddy Dan's Backyard, for placing 15th overall, 9th in ribs, 5th in pork, and being awarded best rookie team in his first ever competition! Congrats also to new freinds Husky Hogs for top 10 in 2 categories, and finally, to Stockcar BBQ, for thier first ever 1st place chicken. And to all who heard their names called!