McPherson Scottish Festival

This past weekend we were in McPherson Kansas for their annual Scottish Festival. We have been feeding the athletes for the last several years and always enjoy this weekend as we have become good friends with several of them.

The announcer is Francis Brebner who was born and raised in Scotland and now living in California. Being a true Scotsman, he likes his Haggis. Now if you look up the traditional Haggis recipe it’ll turn your stomach so I do a mock, or pretend, Haggis. I still use the traditional spices and some of the ingredients, but use ground beef and pork for the meat. This year I had the idea to make bratwurst with the mixture. The traditional method calls for the mixture to be stuffed into a sheep’s stomach and boiled, so I thought hog casings on the grill would be a good substitute. The mixture stuffed well;

Haggis bratwurst

Haggis bratwurst

I made short links so people could have a taste. I did a test link on the grill and this is how it looked:

Haggis

Haggis

It passed the Francis test and one of the athletes who has made multiple trips to Scotland and eaten quite a lot of Haggis described it as having a true Haggis flavor, so I think I’ll keep this recipe!

We always get a good spot on the field and when we’re not too busy preparing lunch we can watch the games

Some of the athletes of the Scottish Highland Games

Some of the athletes of the Scottish Highland Games

At BBQ competitions it’s a tradition to have a good luck toast the morning of the contest and we brought this tradition to the games a few years ago. We tried to find true Scottish toasts for the event and there is one that has become the favorite of Dave, the athletic director;

Here’s to lying, cheating, stealing, and drinking;                                                                       If you’re going to lie, lie for a friend,                                                                                          If you’re going to cheat; cheat death,                                                                                       If you’re going to steal; steal someone’s heart,                                                                        And if you’re going to drink; drink with me!

A good luck toast to start the day

A good luck toast to start the day

We feed the athletes well, lots of proteins and carbs. Recently we had the good folks at Cookshack make us a set of custom racks for the FEC100 for cooking/reheating full size pans. We’re happy to say they worked well:

FEC100 with the new rack design

FEC100 with the new rack design

Of course the meal includes dessert! Which goes to show you can make just about anything in these smokers and grills! In fact, I haven’t found anything yet that I could not make in either the FEC100 smoker or the FEPG1000 pellet grill.

Gotta have those brownies!

Gotta have those brownies!

We had ordered a special pair of aprons for the event, so we just had to get our picture taken with Francis

Our Scottish 'dress'

Our Scottish ‘dress’

On a sad note, the wife of one of the competitors and a member of HASA suddenly became gravely ill just before this contest. Kelly and Thom are in our thoughts and prayers, we wish her a speedy recovery! This reminds us to never pass an opportunity to tell our friends and loved ones how we feel.

We cleaned up and got home around sundown on Sunday, so it was a mad dash to get the catering trailer emptied and put away. Now we will be using every available minute after work to get things ready for the American Royal World Series of Barbecue

Getting loaded up for The Royal

Getting loaded up for The Royal

We’ll be in spot G335 so stop by and say Hi! The blog on that event will be up sometime next week.

 

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.