View Full Version : Arlington TX IBCA Cook-Off Story

05-29-2007, 10:00 AM
Everything started off normally for a Cook-Off in the DFW Metroplex this year. Rain was in the forecast. Not just any rain but the gale force type accompanied by high winds, lightening and hail…..you know what mean…the type we have been experiencing here for the first time since I moved to the Metroplex 21 years ago.

I picked up my new travel trailer earlier this year and have been showing up at the cook-off site a day early and getting everything set up ahead of time. Well since I have become more familiar with the whole set-up I have been arriving later and later.

So for this cook-off I decided to show up at the Arlington VFW on the day of the cook-off. So I tooled into the parking lot at about 10AM on Friday. When I arrive, there are about 5 or 6 teams on site already…… and about 30 cars scattered strategically throughout the parking lot. So there I was sitting there trying to figure out a good place to set up and realized one did not exist as long as the cars remained where they were.. So I went into the bar portion of the VFW and found a bunch of W.W.II veterans already on their favorite stool at the bar and a card game was going on as well. I asked about who was in charge and where I could set up. They all looked at me smiling except for the guys at the card table, they were too busy to look up. I was greeted with a very nice old gentleman telling me that the guy running the cook-off would be there soon.

So I waited around for about a ½ hour trying to decide which cars would have to be moved for me to obtain the optimum spot in the cook-off. So after waiting that long, I decided I would just pull off into the wet grass and set up along the parking lot. I decided this would work because there were already a few teams set up in the field underneath some large pecan trees.

So off I pull into the field about 40 yards before I stop to begin my backing into position….at that point my back tires were in the swamp. I didn’t budge one measly inch. I couldn’t back up nor could I go forward. Therefore I decided I just needed to get my truck out of there. I enlisted the aid of a local cooker and asked that he drive my truck and that I would push. He insisted that he do the pushing… who was I to argue. I ended up leaving about 500 pounds of black mud plastered all over my trailer and this local guy…I can’t even remember his name, but I did thank him profusously many times throughout the weekend. He was one of those nice guys who fed half the population of Arlington when they showed up too.

Anyway I got my truck out of the mud and left some nice ruts across the field. Then I decided to get some sheets of plywood and all three of my cook-off carpets and put them where my truck once mired. I got them all in place and got a running start in reverse and got my truck attached back to the trailer. Then tried to pull or push my truck and trailer back out of there again. It didn’t work, I ended up spitting a full sheet of plywood out from under my truck.

I then decided that the only way to get the trailer out of there shy of hiring a wrecker service was to run up to Northern Tool to purchase a few tow straps and drag it out from behind.

I ended up doing just that. I also had assistance from a couple of guys I have cooked with for the last few months. I placed a sheet of plywood under the front of the trailer and slowly pulled it out and the plywood just dragged out with it.

I ended up using the hose at the VFW and cleaning my trailer off as well as my truck. I was back on the road at 2PM heading home to get my smoker and my two daughters. Luckily I only live about 30 miles from the cook-off area.

In the whole process I found where my jack is located in my truck, getting it out was another problem, putting it back has yet to be accomplished. I also learned to stay on the concrete, regardless of what I think…or what others think or suggest.

Back to the cook-off itself….It did end up raining all weekend. I have to admit that having a Stumps insulated smoker is the bomb when you are fighting temperatures and the elements. I set it up using the Stoker and held constant temps all weekend.

DeeZ ended up tooling into the cook-off sometime after 8PM. He ended up fighting Memorial Day traffic and road construction after leaving his home in Garland at about 6PM. He was rewarded by taking a walk in two categories, one being 1st Place in Chicken.

DeeZ and I ended up staying up all night in the rain drinking beers and a bottle of Crown Royal that was inadvertently left out by a fellow cooker. Every time I looked in that bottles direction… in the next pit over… DeeZ said "we need a pull"….so we did… and did… and did….hell, it looked so lonely sitting over there by itself.

To be honest I took a nap between 6 and 7 AM. I would have slept longer but the ribs needed to go on.

We also had a pot of beans sitting out in the rain soaking, earlier in the evening we were sitting under the canopy watching the rain when my wife said "the beans are sitting out in the rain, do you think that is ok?". I said "they are soaking" Must have worked, she won 2nd place. I told her to go out and collect some rain water yesterday. To be honest, I have heard that beans are best when cooked in soft water…..any truth to that? Possibly?

It did finally stop raining about midnight. We had pretty clear skies for most of the night, the moon even peaked through.

Anyway, I had prepared a pretty good game plan and figured if I stuck pretty much to it, I had a chance to do pretty well at this cook-off. There were 23 teams, I am pretty sure we were limited by the weather or the number of entries would have been greater.

This was my 5th cook-off this year….as well as my 5th cook-off ever. My confidence had been growing with each event as well as the assistance I have received from fellow cooks. Well once I got stuck in the mud, my game plan was pretty much totally thrown off kilter.

Then Saturday morning arrived and I pulled my briskets out of the smoker after a low and slow cook (12 hours) and placed them in a cooler where they sat from 7AM until 3PM. I then put my ribs in the Stumps where they began their 6 hour cook. I also started up my Weber Kettle for my chickens. I might add that DeeZ helped me prepare my chickens this time and I know it made the difference.

My wife attended the cook’s meeting for me….One of the great benefits to having her along. Plus she keeps the music going.
Both of my daughters occupied the travel trailer for the weekend. It’s amazing how many facilities have wireless internet these days. Thankfully…

Turn-ins began at 11AM for beans followed by chicken at noon, ribs at 1:30 and brisket at 3PM. That’s a long wait when you are ready….

My wife handled all of the turn-ins and we had the awards ceremony at 4PM.

I think my wife Sheila finally found a bean recipe that works for her….plus the rain water. She won 2nd place and that was a great accomplishment for her and I am extremely proud that she got it.

There were four teams that set up in our area, we ended up with a side bet on who would do the best. $10 each.

Well the first guy to go up was Dale, he got called on his chicken, I got called at 3rd place (thanks DeeZ) then DeeZ got called up for 1st.

Next was ribs… Dale got called up again, then I got 5th, Dale was falling behind, then another of our group, Robert got 1st. The competition was heating up between us and also for GC.

Finally Brisket was up and DeeZ got called then Myself then Robert. None of us finished in the money in brisket but we all had our numbers called and got certificates. I ended up winning the $40 side pot…by just one point over Robert, he had a first and a fourth call.
I also ended up finishing 1 point out of GC/RGC. Both the GC and the RGC tied with 19 points with the brisket was the deciding factor. So what started as a rough weekend getting stuck in the mud and all ended up with me having my best finish yet.

I have to give a special thanks to the DeeZ BBQ team (Eric and Melissa) whom I met at my first cook-off and have let me feed off of them ever since.

I will post some pictures to this thread when I get the chance. I know Melissa took a bunch and provided us with a disk, I just haven’t seen it yet. Nobody took pictures of my trailer stuck in the mud, I was too busy to even think about doing it… But as I said, valuable lesson learned. The VFW sponsor even talked to me on the last day as I was leaving and said I was calm the whole time. Good thing he couldn’t see inside my skull.

05-29-2007, 10:07 AM
Good story! I'm glad that I'm not the only one that does chit like that.

05-29-2007, 10:08 AM
Congratulations Tony,
Sorry to hear about the early hassle but glad to hear about the happy endings.
Great story, almost like being there.
Way to go.

05-29-2007, 10:25 AM
I guess after all that I'm glad I stayed home and suffered through withdraws :shock: at least you and your buddies got to take walks great job :biggrin:

05-29-2007, 11:14 AM
Thanks, it ended as always, with everyone happy. Here are a few pictures



05-29-2007, 08:50 PM
Congrats guys. I knew it wouldn't be long before Tony would wear out his shoes on those walks to the stage. He just keeps gettin' better each time out. And Eric is the chicken guru. I don't think he's been out of the top five at any contest this year.

Wish I coulda been there with you guys, but its kinda hard to cook with no pit. My next contest will probably be West at the end of July. Gonna get lots of practice with the new smoker design before I dive back in.

05-30-2007, 07:58 AM
I talked it over with the wife, we are gonna try and do West. I am scheduled to work that weekend, but it is too close to home not to compete. Now I just need to work it out with the boss that supplies my paycheck and make sure he has my shift covered.

05-30-2007, 04:43 PM
We look forward to seeing the new design Chromesporty. I am curious for mod's to my offset. We will be at West.

I would say that Tony's doesn't have a "Learning Curve" anymore. Contratulations Buddy...!

05-30-2007, 08:49 PM
Thanks Bro, needed the teamwork!