On September 7th & 8th we traveled to Laurel, MD to compete in one of the 5 locals in Region 5 of the Sam’s Club National Tour. Sam’s Club has partnered with the Kansas City BBQ Association (KCBS) to form a national championship tour. They split the country into 5 regions, with 5 local events of 30 teams and 1 regional final with 30 teams in all 5 regions. The top 6 teams from each local go to that region’s final. From each regional final, the top 10 teams or 50 total go to the national championship in Bentonville, Arkansas which is the birthplace of WalMart. All of these competitions take place in a Sam’s Club parking lot except for the one in Bentonville, which is held in the corporate headquarters parking lot. All of these events are run by Troy Black who has this down to a science. Pretty much each one is identical with the exception of maybe the parking lots.
We arrived in Laurel around 7:15AM for an 8:00 load in. Usually there is some leeway in load in times, but not here. There were teams who spent at least part of the night parked on another section of the lot, but not allowed into the competitor’s site ‘till 8:00AM. We actually got out first choice in sites, as we were the second team in line for entry. Norma & Ron went about setting up and were joined later by Mike, Trina and the kids, then Stephanie, Pat & Bertie. We were also joined by Bob Hess who is a judge going for his Master Judge certification. Part of the qualification for this is to cook with a team to see what goes into our side of an event. Bob was a very good addition to the team, as we learned a lot from him and hopefully he learned something from us, at least an appreciation of the time and effort put forth by the teams. Bob’s welcome to cook with us anytime.
Friday afternoon prep went as planned and the evening and Saturday morning cook went fairly smoothly with the exception of brisket. Let me say that there is a lot of truth in the saying that the meat is done when it’s done, not when you want it to be done. Nothing was late, but the brisket had a mind of its own. An additional category at this competition was sponsored by Tyson wings. It was the Tyson “Best Wings on the Planet” competition and this was prepped and cooked by Mike. All turn in went as planned and we started breaking down the site while waiting for the awards ceremony and trying to beat the rapidly approaching storm headed our way. The awards were scheduled for 4:00PM and we were notified that they would be early and actually were held at 3:30PM. This is a testament to the efficiency of the organizers as well as the wish to be done before the storm hit.
First category called was the Best Wings on the Planet and Pigheaded BBQ took 2nd place in this. Great job Mike. Next up was our best category, chicken but we didn’t hear our name called for that. We did get a 3rd place call in ribs, no call in pork and a 9th place call in brisket. Our final places were: 2nd Wings, 20th Chicken, 3rd Ribs, 11th Pork, 9th Brisket and……………7th Overall. Did I mention that the top 6 teams move on? Oh yea, I thought I did. Needless to say, we were crushed and this would make a long drive home even longer. To add insult to injury, we actually tied in the 4 KCBS categories and lost 3 of those tiebreakers.
To sum up, all was not lost. One of the 6 teams who finished above us, couldn’t commit to the regional event in Chesapeake, VA so guess who was contacted to take their place??????????? PIGHEADED BBQ. We will be at the regional this weekend, so if any of you are in the area, stop by. Great seeing our BBQ friends and we met some very nice new ones. Thanks for all the support.