Balloons, Bikes, Blues and BBQ

This past weekend we attended the Balloons, Bikes, Blues and BBQ in Parsons Kansas. To say it was an eventful weekend would be an understatement!
Everything was good at the beginning. Meats were trimmed, everything loaded and we left the house on time. We have gotten into the habit of stopping for breakfast as a treat to ourselves on our way to competitions. When we analyzed our route to Parsons, we came to the conclusion that our best bet would be stopping in Douglass for breakfast at the Triangle Cafe, even though it was only half an hour into the trip. As it turned out, it was a pivotal decision.
About half way through breakfast my phone rang. It was David, one of the organizers of the Parsons contest. Earlier in the week they were sitting with 27 teams but two had to drop out, leaving them at the KCBS minimum of 25. Then at 9:30 the day of the contest another called and had to cancel, putting the sanctioning in jeopardy. So David was calling us to see if we would split into two teams once again. We said we would consider it and let him know. As we finished breakfast we went through the equipment we had with us and the possibilities. In the end, we decided that since we were only a little ways from home we would go back home and gather what we would need for a second team. Had we been farther down the road that decision might have been made differently. So we ended up leaving the house for the second time already 2 hours behind.
Once we got there, we unhooked the trailer and Greg got both cook sites set up while Kristi ran for more meat and garnish. Even though we were running a few hours behind, all the meat got trimmed in time for the cook’s meeting and supper which was provided by the contest.
It had rained off and on during the trip over, and the rain continued until late evening. Thus bringing in to play the first black cloud of the weekend, our trailer roof was leaking. Fortunately, a bowl under the drip for a few hours was enough as it did stop raining. No rain, no leak!
The temperature dropped to 34° by early morning, so it was a damp and chilly start to Saturday:

A very hazy start to the morning

A very hazy start to the morning

As with the previous splits, Kristi got the Cookshack smokers and Greg took the Webers:

Weber Smokey Mountain smokers

Weber Smokey Mountain smokers

The organizers mantra was “We Love our Cooks!” and they backed that up with not only a taco bar for supper Friday night, but they also provided oatmeal pancakes and sausage for breakfast Saturday morning. Now if you’ve never had oatmeal pancakes, you need to give them a try. If you have trouble finding a recipe contact us and we’ll hook you up. They were delicious!!

Oatmeal pancakes and sausage for breakfast

Oatmeal pancakes and sausage for breakfast

Saturday turned into a warm and sunny day and both our cooks went off without any major obstacles. We made turn ins on time and started packing up, waiting on awards.
Greg’s only call was for 4th place in Chicken, which was an important one. Once all the Team Of the Year (TOY) points were tabulated, Naughty Nurses BBQ was sitting at #69 in the nation in chicken. Even though this is our last KCBS contest of the year, we feel we have enough points to keep us in the top 100 at the end of the year.
Kristi fared better at awards, starting with 3rd place in the Anything Butt category with a Peanut Butter Cup cheesecake:

Third place Anything Butt! The top 3 were all cheesecakes.

Third place Anything Butt!
The top 3 were all cheesecakes.

She followed this up with a second place in ribs:

Second place Ribs!

Second place Ribs!

And 9th place pork:

Ninth place Pork!

Ninth place Pork!

Giving Kristi a 9th place overall finish compared to Greg’s 14th. This puts Kristi up 2 – 1 in head to head competitions, although it was pointed out that Greg’s win was a Grand Championship and he’s still several hundred dollars ahead in winnings 😉
We made it home without any issues, but the black cloud reared it’s ugly head again on Sunday during the first load of laundry. Now our washing machine is at least 15 years old and has been having some issues lately, but this time it would not drain the water. So after siphoning the water, Greg takes the water pump off and a nickel falls out. How a nickel got into the pump I’ll never know, but I do know it wiped out all of the impeller blades, rendering the pump useless. Of course that pump is no longer manufactured so there would be no easy fix. Time for a new one……
The black cloud continued to hang around as I dug up the outdoor hydrant that had been leaking and learned that the line leading in was rusted through in addition to the hydrant being cracked. On the bright side, it now didn’t matter that the washing machine wasn’t working as I had to shut the water off to the house anyway.
So now it’s Tuesday and the water line has been repaired and a new hydrant installed, the trailer has a tarp over the roof for now with plans to reseal that later this week since no rain is in the forecast, and we get the new washer/dryer on Thursday. Luckily, I will only have to turn my socks and underwear inside out for one day before we can do laundry again.

Our next event will be the BBQ For the Troops at Ft. Riley, so stay tuned for that one.

5th Annual Smoke on the Water at Lake Shawnee

This past weekend we made to trip to Topeka Ks for yet another contest that was a first time for us. The 5th Annual Smoke on the Water was held at beautiful Lake Shawnee on the Southeast side of Topeka. A section of the RV camping area was set aside for the contest so we had spots with dedicated water and 30 amp electric. We were on gravel and there was plenty of shade, few contests can offer better accommodations. Josh and his crew took good care of us and we had a great time.
Before we get too far into the contest, let me tell you about a little side trip we made to Wamego on the way. During the trip we saw several miles of old stone fence, some in disrepair that was backed by wire fence and some that was still in good shape. Here is a picture of a section of stone fence that appeared to have been recently re-stacked:

Stone fence

Stone fence


The stone fence was just one of the ways the people who settled the region made use of the materials at hand.
Wamego had lots of buildings made of the native limestone, with just a little care these buildings will last forever:

Limestone building, Wamego KS

Limestone building, Wamego KS

Wamego is also home to the old Dutch Windmill. We visited there when I was little, and I could still remember that. As with many things, time has taken its toll. It saddened me to see the windmill in this state:

The Old Dutch Windmill, Wamego KS

The Old Dutch Windmill, Wamego KS

But the stone fences, buildings, or even the windmill were not the reason we made the side trip to Wamego. I had spotted a Weber kettle grill for sale at a good price, this is what we were there for:

Weber Ranch Kettle A monstrous 1104 square inches of grilling surface

Weber Ranch Kettle
A monstrous 1104 square inches of grilling surface

Back to the contest. Friday evening we were joined by my sisters Debbie and Donna and brother-in-law Bob, our son Justin, his wife Angie and their daughter Jocelyn. We grilled some rib eye steaks, baked potatoes and corn. Topped this off with some of Kristi’s delicious home made cheesecake. We had a great time visiting with family as well as some of our barbecue friends. We were next to Smokin’ Bad Habit and across from the Front Door Gang, so there was plenty of bantering back and forth.
We thought we had a really good cook but the judges weren’t as impressed as we were. Kristi took 5th in the Cook’s Choice category with her Reese’s peanut butter cup cheesecake.

5th place Cook's Choice

5th place Cook’s Choice

We did pull out a 6th place in chicken which, when the KCBS TOY was updated, was good enough to put us in 84th place in the nation!
We’ll have one more contest to try to get enough points to keep us in the top 100 for the year.

5th place Pork

5th place Pork

We ended up 13th in ribs, then got another call for 5th place pork, followed by a disappointing 18th place brisket. When the smoke cleared, we were 9th overall out of 43 teams. They did have some neat metals for us:

Our metals: 5th place Cook's Choice & 5th place Pork

Our metals:
5th place Cook’s Choice & 5th place Pork


The Lake Shawnee contest will certainly be on our radar for next year.
But now I need to wrap this up and get busy trimming meat for our trip to Parsons, our last KCBS contest of the year. We are looking forward to seeing some of our friends one more time before winter sets in.

The American Royal 2013

It was probably in our first year of competing in KCBS sanctioned barbecue contests that we decided we would not go to the American Royal until we earned an invite. To earn a spot in the invitational, a team must win a grand championship at a qualifying contest between August 1st and July 31st of the preceding year. We won our first grand championship in September this year, which means we will get to attend the 2014 American Royal Invitational.
A couple weeks ago we were approached about helping spread the word about Operation BBQ Relief at this year’s Royal, and of course we were happy to help support such a great cause. Plans were made and we headed out around 6am Friday morning. We got parked and met one of the group at the gate for our wristbands and we were at The Royal for the first time ever! After we met up with the group we had a little time to explore, so we started looking up some of our friends that were there. We got there just in time to participate in good luck shots with our friends at site of Kelly of 4 Legs Up.
The first thing that we noticed is that it is a maze of cookers. There were about 175 teams cooking the invitational, and I’m guessing that half of the additional 400 teams there for the open contest were already in their spots. There were alleys between the rows of cook teams, some were open on both ends and some were dead ends. And none were marked. But this isn’t their first year so there are several signs with all the teams and which spot they are in, along with a map to help you find your way. It would have been helpful to have one of those “You are here” X marks the spot kind of thing on each map, but one could find a nearby spot number and go off of that. With teams packed in an area covering approximately 20 acres it’s not hard to lose your way.

We grabbed several packets of stickers, pamphlets, and temporary tattoos and headed out to spread the word about OBR. We did figure out that the contestant turn in area is on Beef Run when we saw some of our friends with their entries:

Contestants making their way to the turn in area for judging on Beef Run

Contestants making their way to the turn in area for judging on Beef Run

We also got a shot of the turn in area inside. We have seen pictures and this area will be filled on Sunday when 500 teams are getting their food turned in during that magic 10 minute window.

the turn in area.

the turn in area.

We stayed out of Lot B since that is where most of the invitational participants are located and hit as many of the other spots as we could. It pays to keep your eyes open as you’re walking around, in the North Lot was a team called Motley Que who had a special guest visiting; Guy Fieri! We didn’t go talk to him but one of our friends got his picture taken with Guy later in the day. One of the barbecue celebrities we did get to meet was Myron Mixon. Although he always seems to be very grouchy on TV, he was as nice as could be to us :) We also met Dionn and Gary Lanton who were on season 3 of BBQ Pitmasters, as well as Brad Orrisan and Daddy-O from The Shed BBQ joint and who have a TV show.

Myron Mixon

Myron Mixon

We also saw several other of the TV Pitmasters, including Danielle with DivaQ, Johnny Trigg, Chris Lilly, Rod Gray, Lynnae Oxley, and David Butcher. Of course we have competed against some of them before, a couple on a regular basis, and are friends with David. We were no less thrilled to see some of our usual friends; JP, Chad & Nicole, Scot & Rocky, Stuart, Robbie & Jessica, Bryan & Chilly Willy, Brian & MaryAnn, Frank, Stan & Amy, Will, Travis, Richard & Kathy, Fast Eddy, all those whom I’m forgetting get my apologies, and especially Marc who looks much better than the last time we saw him.
We met and talked with many other fine folks in our travels, including a Pitt State grad who we learned graduated from the School of Business the same year I graduated with my nursing degree. Many people are familiar with OBR and we fielded lots of questions from cookers who would like to get involved. All in all, I think is was 3 hours well spent, although by the time we were done our feet were in disagreement :( Here are a few pictures I took of some of the grounds;

American Royal 2013 009

Looking north on Party Angle West.

American Royal 2013 008

The Royal Tunnel.

American Royal 2013 010

Looking north-east on Single Malt Way


We even saw one of the event volunteers sporting one of our tattoos!
A Royal volunteer showing off her OBR tattoo

A Royal volunteer showing off her OBR tattoo


We took a little time to explore the Expo Hall where we ran into more friends; Karen and Dave from Cookshack, Don from Yoder Smokers, and Shannon from Fire Bug Grilling Sauce. Inside the hall were several vendors and displays, and bounce houses for the children. There was also a petting zoo for the kids. Outside was a stage with bands performing live music.
A shot inside the Expo Hall

A shot inside the Expo Hall


One of the things I noticed as we walked around was the type of smokers different teams were using. Of course I didn’t do any kind of count, but it seemed like there were as many Weber Smokey Mountain smokers there as all the others combined. Some teams had as many as 6 of the WSMs. Also well represented were the Good-One smokers. From there it was a mixture of about every smoker made, including many that were home made.
We had to leave before the party got started, but are already looking forward to being there next year! We got to talk to several of our barbecue family Saturday and next year we’ll be spending 3 or 4 days with them.