Non Sanctioned events
Is there a calendar of non sanctioned events or is it just luck of being close enough to the grapevine? My dad and I have been wanting to enter a couple of local events just for S&G's but don't necessarily want to get our arses handed to us. We aren't dillusional and think we can beat the big boys, but would just as soon not have our delicate egos shattered! :evil: Ideally, we'd like to work up to the Lenexa BBQ competition in a few years. Any suggestions? Thanks!
Might try contacting the local VFW. See an awful lot of Q and chili contests down here put on by the VFW as a fundraiser.
Thanks for the tip. Like I say, I'm not hung up on wanting to win anything, but there are some competitions that I'd just as soon stay away from because it sure seems like winning is the only thing. I'm more interested in the Friday night party, hanging out with my friends/family and learning some tips from some more experienced Q artists (also one of the reasons I'm on this board!).
I saw that Food Network show on the Big Pig Jig a week ago and the guy that won Grand Champion only competed in ribs. Yeah, he can most likely smoke rings (pun intended) around me in any category, but what fun is going balls-to-the-wall and only care about winning? From my experiences and from listening to all of you, the camaraderie (and the beer) is the biggest benefit of competing.
Sorry for the rant. Thanks for the advice!
No "national" calendar that I know of.
Also, it's a misconception to think that "unsanctioned" events are any less serious than KCBS or MIM! Often the only difference is the amount of prize money! :D Bragging rights are seriously sought awards at local and regional events.
Check with your Chamber of Commerce and those of surround towns/cities. Local papers will sometimes have info.
Another option is to sign up for a sanctioned event and enter the backyard or amateur division. One good thing about a sanctioned event is that you'll usually have certified judges - at least that's the way it's handled by the FBA.
For those of us that compete to win - that's fun! Sure we grouse and whine when we don't place but we go to COMPETE and win. Socializing is secondary. We're there to compete and get to know other cooks and competitors.
You say, "but what fun is going balls-to-the-wall and only care about winning?" I ask why would you go balls-to-the-wall and NOT care about winning? If you just want to drink beer and cook some que do it in your backyard or come to a Bash! :D That's where the party and beer comes in.
Now, for some events the social is more prevelent and expected but most local events are only marginally social. You drive in on Friday afternoon, setup, get inspected, start prepping, go to the cook's meeting, finish prepping - then schmooze and visit before trying to catch some sleep before firing off the cookers.
Overnight you visit with the teams around you but hardly anybody is "partying" - 1. quiet time after 11pm 2. you're busy 3. gotta pay attention. After turn-in you are BEAT! Time for a brewsky and some down-time. Besides, most of us have several hours of driving ahead of us before we get home, either Saturday night or Sunday.
Competition is a different world. Some people just do one or two events a year and party their tales off. That's great for them.
Also, large teams can AFFORD to party since there is almost always a couple of "designated cooks" who are getting the meat prepared in spite of the party! :D
Most of us that compete really want to win something and so we pay attention to details and don't party until after the brisket is turned in!!
So yeah, we go balls-to-the-wall to win - heck it costs between $700-$1000 to go to an event by the time you add up the registration, meat, gas, lodging, food, and such.
You wouldn't register for a bass tournament and then say you're only there to have fun! Fishing with your buddies is fun - fishing a tournament is an all together different thing and is work. Same with BBQ competition. Yeah, you can have fun and we do but it is not a party - not at our level! At least not yet!! :D Competition is, for me, recreation and avocation - I am using the exposure as advertising for my catering business - most regular competitors are in the "business" at some level - selling sauces and rubs, catering, restaurants, manufacturers, or repping for other manufacturers. Competition is to a large degree business.
I'm not trying to discourage you or anyone else! Far from it. But don't knock the guys who have their game face on - they've paid their money for a chance to get their teeth kicked in. Please respect the time and effort and the skills these teams exercise to go out and compete regularly.
Go to a few events - go especially on Friday night and/or show up real early Saturday to see what really goes on at the cook sites! Hang around the team areas from about 7 a.m. through the last turn-in and you'll see the game faces!
I've been doing this thing for almost a year and am still a rookie but for me it is fun to compete. If I want comeraderie and beer I go to a Bash - cook offs, for me, are Game Time.
Next weekend is a KCBS sanctioned competition in Raytown. Take Chad's advise and go visit Friday night and go back Saturday morning.
You'll see your partyers, and you'll see your serious competitiors. Stay for the awards, I bet most of the serious competitiors come home with the money.........
Do we party.....yes, in moderation.....hell, it's tradition for me to pop a top at about 9AM on Saturday, but that's more of a victory beer than anything else, especially after starting my cook shift at 2AM. From 2AM to then, it's coffee and gatoraid. When we compete, I'm intense!!
But, you can find a balance..........
hope you make the trip to Raytown.....my first visit to a cookoff was at the Blue Springs Blaze off......needless to say, I was hooked from the moment I walked on the grounds........
Start your own non sanctioned event. So far that is the only comp I've ever been part of. The "RibCrown" I'm sporting in my avatar is from a little (10-20 entrants) rib fest competition my buddies and I started five years ago. We have a blast. It's held at a farm and everyone comes out with their tents and campers to spend the night. Lots of food and drink and no drunk driving.
IMO- I think you should go ahead and do sanctioned events. As long as you are aware of the rules and turn in times, and are satisfied with how your finished product tastes I say Go For It!! If you really don't feel like you are ready to jump in with both feet, I suggest that you find a mentor team or pit bitch for a team and see what it's like first hand.
You may get burned your first time out, but the lessons learned from this will help you on the next try.
My team did this about 5 years ago and we are still learning but have a lot of good times in the process. It is also good to know how you measure up to your fellow cookers.
We will be doing a contest in Kearney Missouri (North of Kansas City) Sept. 16 - 17 and would be more than happy to show you the ropes.
My bad - not intended to offend anybody. Sure, I'd LOVE to win Grand Champion at American Royal or Lenexa someday - I'm not a born loser who loves to pay good money to get stomped!!! It's been my experience in the events that I attended in the past that there is a bunch of partying going on and the Q is somewhat secondary (not totally, and obviously I'm not hanging out with the top level teams).
I appreciate everyone's offers to hang out with your teams and learn the ropes. I may take one or two of you up on it in the future. I think at this point I'm going to go to a couple of local events (especially after the party Friday nite and early Saturday morning) and plan on entereing one or two competitions in Shawnee, Emporia, and/or Paola in the coming months.
Now.... How do I convince my wife I NEED a Lang Model 84 for this new extension to my hobby!?! :D Wonder if I could slip a quick run down to Georgia during a Sunday drive! :o
Thanks again for everyone's advice. My apologies if I stepped on any toes.
Tell her that it is a lot cheeper than if you were to have competitve fishing as a hobby (Boat , Equiptment ect.)
I only agree with chad and kpn halfway.
My team only did 3 events last year, but everyone of them was fun. I say it all the time, any one person can win a contest at any one time.
Jason, get your ass out there and compete, regardless of the competition. Go out there a few times to learn how to compete. You know how to cook allready, but competeing is an art in itself. The hours from 6AM to 1:30PM is an entire world away from the backyard. Thats the stuff you have to experience. Cooking the food is the easy part but the art of competing is the hard part. Getting your timings right, rapid fire turnin of 4 meats at their best point exactly at a 10 minute window... that is the trick. You will never get that practice in the backyard. So go compete, who cares where you place the first few times. First time out you may be tripping all over yourself just to get the stuff done at the right time.
On a different issue..... heres where I differ from chad....
Personally, I can't take it that seriously becase then it aint fun, its work. But i'm not(yet) trying to make a living out of it either. Only thing i get out of competing is personal satisfaction and exposure for our group. Of course you prep for winning, you get the best of what you can and do your best with it. But friday night is a party,..... in betweeen prep work. If you time stuff right, you have between 6 and midnight while stuff is brining, absorbing rubs, marinating, etc to kick back and schmooze. You need an hour or so in the middle of the party to get the butts and briskets in around 11-midnight and after that its tend pit and party some more.. or s;leep if u can. Come 6AM, party is over and its time to get to work. Timing is always what your learning here.
heres a little scenario starting at 5-6 am.
Brisket and butts have been in all night and its time for chicken and ribs to go in. Gotta hope the butts or brisket don't "hang" at 175 for the next 6 hours. It happens,.... they get stuck and your 12 hour planned pork butt takes 14. Same for brisket. That is weighing on you as you prep for ribs and chicken, every 10 minutes checking meat temps to make sure they are climbing. Time the chicken to come out and be at the most perfect point of the process......... at 11:55, no later than 12:05. Time the ribs to be KCBS perfect at 12:25, no later than 12:35. Time that pork butt to finish and have some coolered rest time, then start pulling it or slicing it at 12:36 for a 1:00 turnin. No sooner, you dont want it to get mushy. Start slicing brisket, timed so they stay perfect and dont keep cooking, or dry out while they sit in a box for 15 minutes.
Decisions decisions, when do u turn in? at the beginning of the window?, midway? the last minute? each has advantages/disadvanteges. When do you start slicing, start pulling, which ribs look best, which pieces fit best in the box..
This is competing. Dont master this stuff, and you will crash and burn even if you produce the very best food on the planet.
Only way you will get that experience is to go to the contests. Even if it the American royal open. You need to start somewhere. And if you get your arse handed to you, put some rub on it, let sit overnight and cook it up.. A butts a butt.
Even with all this, and the huge stress level around turnin time, competing to me is fun, meeting the people in the circuit and that Friday night party. i come prepared with food and booze specifically for friday night. To be able to meet those people you see on FoodTV is a thrill, shake hands, get a picture with Chris lilly, get some pointers from Byron, and have a few shots with Dirty Dick.. and every time, let them know who "The Brethren" are. Sooner or later, maybe one day, like our splash page says, they will :twisted: "Fear the Pig". Yet, Its nice to "take the walk" to get that trophy, but its not all consuming.. not yet anyway. Going into a contest with nothing(no wins), you have nothing to loose, and all to gain. It will be harder down the road when your trying to keep a streak going, or trying to regain your place in KCBS rankings. But for now, who cares? go out and have some fun and learn a whole bunch while your doing it.
"What we have here is a failure to communicate" :lol:
Matter of degrees, definition, and priorities here.
Chad and I do not sit there staring at the cooker and telling people to go away :twisted:
We visit, we cook snacks for other teams, we visit, we tell "war stories", and we visit. We wander around and admire cookers. We look at the cook sites and support equipment and adjust ours when we find better set-ups.
Within the rules, we help other teams if they need it. Especially during the wee hours on Fri night into Sat AM.
We have even introduced several teams to Fatties and ABT's :lol:
What Chad was referring to is the image of teams with a keg who are consuming way too much libations to have any focus on the product!
Folks go to an event (or watch Food TV) and see lots of "team members" getting drunk, carousing, and carrying on. Trust me--those are not the cooks! Those are the "hangers on" or the sponsors-- not the cooks in most cases.
Every cook I have ever met (except two who never win) has stayed sober, stays focused on the goal, and gets every minute of sleep/rest they can muster. Not saying they do not have a drink--just very little if any.
So, let me try one more time:
If you view a competition as a party and if you have "deep pockets" to spend--go and party hard. Absolutly nothing wrong with that :lol:
Just realize that booze and fatigue lead to mistakes. Mistakes will cost you $$ at awards time--simple fact of life we have validated too many times!
If you have to save and skrimp to put up the $500 to $1000 to compete--go to win. You still can have lots of "fun" doing it. You just can not "party hard" and win.
And, no, you will probably not win the first few (or many) events you enter if they are larger sanctioned events. There are just too many great teams who have invested a lot of time and effort to get to the top. But, you look at the score sheets for strengths and weaknesses, review your cook notes (you did keep cook notes--right?) and start making changes to place you higher next time.
Chad and I have a lot of fun at events--it is just not a party like a Bash or a Backyard cook :lol:
We would never invest the time, trouble, and $$$ if it was not fun :twisted:
You just have to define "fun"--that is all!
The product we cook at home is good stuff for sure. Competition meat is a whole different world.
As I have said many times--actually judging will give you much better information than just cooking. The two activities fit together to point you in the right direction.
The best way to get started is to just "go do it" :lol: :lol: :lol:
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