Balloons, Blues & Barbecue

This past weekend we were in Parsons Kansas for the Balloons, Bikes & Barbecue contest. This has become one of our favorite events of the year. As the name implies, the weekend includes a balloon glow, blues music and of course, a barbecue contest.

Unfortunately we didn’t make it out to where they do the balloon glow on Friday evening this year but we did hear it was quite the sight. You can see some of the pictures here.

We had the usual taco bar dinner Friday night and we got the news we had been expecting; several teams had cancelled and we would need to split, so Naughty Nurses Second Shift would make their first appearance of the year. Since we were pretty much expecting this to happen we had enough equipment and meat for 2 teams. It really messes with our timing having to cook as 2 teams instead of together, but we pulled it off again.

Of course Saturday morning we had a breakfast furnished by the organizers of oatmeal pancakes and sausage. This alone makes the contest worth attending;



Add a little peanut butter and a steaming cup of coffee and it’s heaven in Parsons!

The cook was pretty uneventful, yet stressful since we were each cooking alone instead of as a team with twice as much to do. But we both got everything turned in on time, including our desserts. Kristi made a peanut butter cheescake with a candy bar topping and I made a combination German Chocolate and Turtle cake in a dutch oven.


This was the first time I’d tried this recipe, I should have used a skillet instead of the dutch oven and along with a couple other changes it will be a contest entry again.

Soon it was time for awards and Kristi started it off winning the dessert category with a perfect 180! Anyone that thinks you can’t make a winning dessert on a grill has never cooked on a Cookshack PG1000. My cake came in 5th, which wasn’t bad. In the meat categories, Greg earned 3 calls with 10th chicken, 9th ribs and 7th in brisket while Kristi got one call with a 7th place pork call. It was interesting to note that we hit the same table in all 5 categories; I took 3 of the 5 so that makes me the winner!

It wasn’t long after we started home that we started thinking of supper, so we plotted our course to take us through Independence. Except the GPS took us on a shortcut that bypassed Indy, so we started looking for something else. As we drove through Moline we caught sight of a sign for the Swinging Bridge Cafe so we circled the block and pulled in. The cafe is a part of the Crooked Creek Lodge and we thought the layout was a little strange, but we were hungry and they had food. And they had good food, and ice cream, and we were happy.

As we prepared to leave I had to stop in the bathroom, and then the layout made more sense;


it was an old nursing home that had been converted. I didn’t hit that call light, but did think about it! We continued on our way and made it home with only one close encounter with a deer.

The Parsons contest was the end of our season, a few of our stats:                                We cooked 13 contests and had a total of 18 category top 10s with one 1st place in ribs (which was a 180 score!) We had 3 top 10 overall finishes with 1 Grand Championship. We also had one first place win in beans and 2 first place wins in dessert.

So now it’s time to winterize the camper and start looking forward to next year. And practice. Because as I’ve said before, barbecuing and grilling are year around sports!