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Competition BBQ *On Topic Only* Discussion regarding all aspects of Competition BBQ. Experiences competing or visiting, questions, getting started, Equipment, announcements of events, Results, Reviews, Planning, etc. Questions here will be responded to with competition BBQ in mind.


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Unread 08-17-2005, 09:39 PM   #1
Jeff_in_KC
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Default The cost of getting started

Holy cow! I just spent nearly $300 today on "stuff"... coolers, storage bins, a 42 cup coffee maker, plastic 4 shelf unit, paper towels, paper plates, bowls, napkins, platters, aluminum pans of 2-3 sizes, broom, cleaners, dish rags, scouring pads, hand wipes, a paper globe lantern for under my canopy, zip loc bags of various sizes, heavy duty foil, plastic wrap, bleach, citronella candles, metal ash bucket, soap, latex gloves, etc. Thank God I got a couple of sponsors so the grocery bill won't be painful next month! With the exception of a couple of good knives, a new cutting board and the meat and groceries, I've now got practically everything on that contest checklist from Smokin' Guns and Phil's suggestions. If I hadn't paid a visit to Dollar General for a lot of the basic stuff, cleaners and paper products, I would have easily spent $350. This is on top of the $150 for the 10x20 canopy and $200 for a WSM. I assume most of you guys had similar expense when getting started? The thing is, right now, I just have one other guy on my team besides having my wife helping out so there's really no one to split costs with. Thankfully, being on the park board, I know folks who have offered to loan me some tables from the city's municipal building for the contest this year. That'll save me some cash until next season.
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Unread 08-17-2005, 10:50 PM   #2
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Default RE: The cost of getting started

Startup costs, excluding cookers, are heavy at first, they lighten up by the 5th or 6th competition when u have just about everything you need. At that point its just replacing expendables(foil and plastic), paper(dishes and towels), liquids(drinks, juices, marinades) and meat. First few competions cost over a grand.. a couple close to 1500. But its mostly equipment... by the 3rd time out i was tired of renting trailers, so went out and bought one for 1600.... tents, cabinents, tables, utensils cutting boards, bus boxes... etc... they add up.
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Unread 08-17-2005, 11:14 PM   #3
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Phil is right about the early days, the bulk of the "capital expenses" are there.

Then it becomes "maintenance and expendable items".

Except, the bigger and better cooker.
Except, the better temp measuring equipment.
Except, the cost of a real cook school to improve your scores.
Except, the permanent pans to replace the disposable ones.
Except, the special imported wood for that elusive flavor edge.
Except, the cost of travel, lodging, and meals as you hunt further afield for the perfect (or just the next) event.
Except, the cost of the "perfect" trailer for comps.
Except, well--ya get the idea.

Competetion is an "addiction" thinly disguised as a "hobby" or "business"

Do we need most of the "stuff" to have fun???--no way.
But, "guys" are "guys" and our toys cost more than they did when we were really children, not just acting like them

You can control the expenses and draw the financial line anywhere you are comfortable with.

Welcome to the "DARK SIDE", as Chad says

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Unread 08-18-2005, 06:51 AM   #4
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Yepper - I've shot thru about $8K this year (2005) - the cooker is paid off but with fees, new injectors, mods to the cooker, travel expenses, more coolers (I've got 2-120qt, 2-70qt, 1-50qt, and a couple of little ones for "stuff"), etc. -- poof! $$$$ with wings! :D

Seems I remember our first couple of contest (2004) ran us about $3000 or so - and Tim already had the trailer. New WSMs, yada, yada, yada - I think you get the picture.

Tim and I had already collected the tables, canopies, etc. prior to this year's "accounting" we'd bought them in 2004.

But, on the other hand, neither of us has a boat, play golf, jet ski, etc. so this takes the place of other high $$ recreation.

Indeed, welcome to the dark side!
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Unread 08-18-2005, 08:23 AM   #5
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I'm in trouble then... I DO have a boat, fish, sometimes hunt, play golf AND brew beer. Thankfully, the $300 I spent yesterday came from a reimbursement check from work for mileage. Even at $2.55 per gallon, I'm still coming out somewhat ahead (40.5 cents per miles) when I have to travel.
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Unread 08-18-2005, 08:34 AM   #6
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Well when you come in first place the check will be a biiiiiiiiiig one.
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Unread 08-18-2005, 08:53 PM   #7
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Quote:
Tim and I had already collected the tables, canopies, etc. prior to this year's "accounting" we'd bought them in 2004.
As things have worked out, this is how I'm spending this season. Canopy, Tables, Cooker, Camper etc in place now, glad I have this little muni event this weekend to dry run the gear situation. It's far enough away from the house to truly check what you do and don't have but still plenty close enough to send the OL back to the house if I've forgotton something important.
Next year it'll just be stuff from Tim's list, better therms, a WSM to replace the cimarron for chicken cooking, extra coolers and SPONSORS!
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Unread 08-19-2005, 10:00 AM   #8
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Just read somewhere that the ROYAL (I assume both Open and Invitational) does not supply clean-up water
Amazing.
So far, we had had water everywhere except Dillard which had it, but not in sufficient quantity to clean with when needed.

So:
I guess we need to add in a couple of water cans or use the coolers for water supply on occasion

Another question to ask before going, or just buy some jugs, I guess
Too much chit to tote now

"Money, Money, Money by the pound"

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Unread 08-19-2005, 11:00 AM   #9
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Tim.....check out Wally World. They used to sell these compact "bags" that were made of some kind of plastic. They didn't cost that much, don't take up any space for storage and hold about 5 gallons of water. I use 'em when I go camping and was planning on using them when I start competing.
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Unread 08-19-2005, 11:06 AM   #10
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I realize that "we" have given the impression that you have to spend a lot to start competition.

That's not true. You will have to spend some but you can do it on the cheap.

Assuming you have a vehicle to haul the stuff and/or a trailer:

At least one canopy. A 10x10 will get you started. Even a $35 lightweight canopy will get the job done (two are nice to give you cover for your prep and a place to put "stuff".

I'd recommend at least two tables. One six footer (two is nice) and one card table will give you a place for prep and cleanup. Of course, another would be nice but you can certainly get by with two.

Three or four bus tubs. I like the heavy grey tubs from Sam's because the are large enough and deep enough to use for most of your pans, utensils, etc. And, they can be used for food prep, too.

Coolers - as soon as you can get a couple of 120 quart coolers. They get heavy but you can put 80-100 pounds of ice or all your meat with ice in one cooler. Another is great for "coolering" the meat. I've got 2 120 quart, 2 70 quart, and one 50 quart cooler that go out to every event. You can certainly do it with less. I now use one or two that are emplty to carry my seasoning stuff (sauces, rubs, sugar, juice, etc. etc.)

The goal is to get down to what you really need. I can pack all this in my Explorer and my "fire box" stuff (chimneys, lighters, extension cords, etc.) goes on the cooker trailer. I have also strapped one of the 120 quart coolers to the tongue of the trailer.

A source of hot water is essential. I use my turkey fryer. I always have the propane available for the cooker burner to pre-heat the chamber while the charcoal is getting ready. I usually take my short "fish fry" pan for hot water but last event I tood the 26 qt. turkey pot and it was nice to have the bigger pot - not necessary but nice. The Coleman portable hot water heater is definately an option and it can be fired from disposable propane bottles or, with adapter, the 20# propane tank. It can also be hooked to a water hose (if available) for continuous water - it comes with a 5 gallon portable water container.

Fire extinguisher! Make sure you have a good extinguisher - some events really check. One from Sam's or a pair of the smaller ones will be fine.

You cooker(s). We were finally able, at Dillard, to go with one cooker. Fortunately, mine has two seperate cook areas and we had space to cook and then hold the meat at different temps. After going out with 2-3 cookers in the past having the one was really nice. Don't get me wrong - a Bandera will work fine and if you team it with a WSM or even a kettle you can certainly be competitive. It's just that keeping track of what's going on with 2 or 3 or more cookers is stressful - not to mention the space required to carry multiple cookers.

Carry boxes - get at least a couple of Rubbermaid (or other brand) boxes for your "kitchen" stuff. I use to use a three drawer plastic set with the stand - one drawer had dry spices, one had the wet stuff, etc. This stuff will evolve after you do a couple of cook offs. They key is to KNOW where your stuff is.

This stuff is off the top of my head and I'm sure others will chime in with suggestions.

Also, and in my opinion it's a biggie, get used to cleaning EVERYTHING as your packing up to leave. Getting home with a couple of hours of scrubbing, wiping, etc. is a real drag. After Dillard and a 12 hour drive home it only took me about an hour to unload the stuff, put the cooker up, etc. That included emptying the meat cooler and cleaning and drying the stuff.

In spite of your best efforts the first couple of outings will make you think you're doing a remake of the Beverly Hillbillies! :D
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Unread 08-19-2005, 11:32 AM   #11
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Dave, I wouldn't have thought of taking the pot that came with my turkey fryer to heat water! Thanks for mentioning that! Not sure when actual HOT water would have occured to me. Probably once I set up at a contest.

However, what you mentioned were basics, which are nice but you can't get by without the masses of other things like I mentioned above in my original post for this thread. That stuff all adds up quickly as I found out Wednesday!

Question also... you mention that you can be competitive with only a kettle, a Bandera or a WSM. My thoughts are how can that be? I believe none of these individually has enough space for two large briskets, three butts, four or so slabs of babybacks and whatever chicken you're going to cook. A Bandera or BSKD might be close but if you smoke packers rather than smaller flats, I think you're gonna run out of space quickly.
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Unread 08-19-2005, 11:40 AM   #12
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Hey Jeff, I think you read Dave's message wrong.....

Quote:
Don't get me wrong - a Bandera will work fine and if you team it with a WSM or even a kettle you can certainly be competitive.
This is how I was planning to start. The Bandera for the brisket and butts and a couple of bullet smokers for chicken and ribs. Yeah, temp control on three smokers might be a bear but at least it'll keep me awake, right?
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Unread 08-19-2005, 12:15 PM   #13
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Richie, we're starting off with three cookers... WSM, BSKD and a "Good-One". Plan to use the BSKD for sausage, ribs and chicken, the WSM for butts and the Good-One for brisket.
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Unread 08-19-2005, 12:42 PM   #14
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Yep, you're taking the same approach I am. Multiple cookers is the way I'm going to have to do it for now. Seriously, unless I got into catering, which is still a possibility later on, the only reason I'd use a big cooker is at competitions.

This might sound like I've got my priorities screwed up but I think I'm going to find a used car hauler before I get a larger smoker that I can put a small sleeping area up front, put some cabinets and a sink in and have the remaining area as prep space. I saw a FoodTV special the other day called the BBQ Circuit and it had Lee and Bobbie McWright (Music City Pig Pals) on there and that's what they use. Don't know if their's has a sleeping area but it sure got my mind wondering if that would be better than to try to mount a cooker on my 16' trailer, put a top on it, and do all the other stuff to make it a "rig". I could roll a smoker into the hauler as long as the smoker wasn't TOO big.

I don't know, it's just all wishful thinking for now but I know where I'm at right now and where I want to be. Now I just gotta figure out how to get there.
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Unread 08-19-2005, 01:23 PM   #15
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Sleeping quarters? Hell, a tent is cheaper! But I'm hoping to have something more sleepable for summer months by next year (although I have set a window unit A/C in a 5 gallon bucket and shot it into the window of my tent before. Works amazingly well too.
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