Tuesday, April 30, 2013

2013 Pork in the Park

Our 2013 BBQ season officially started in Salisbury, MD at the 10th Annual Pork in the Park Festival. We have always looked forward to Salisbury as it historically kicks of the Mid Atlantic BBQ Competition season. This year there were 106 teams competing, down from 133 teams last year. This is the largest BBQ Competition west of Kansas City, or so we’re told. One of the major changes at PITP this year was the absence of the original organizer and good friend to all, Sandy Fulton. This is a long story in itself and I won’t go into the details here. Right up front, I will say that the weather forecast for Friday was anything but inviting. Though Salisbury has had its fair share of bad weather, the forecast had a tornado warning in it. Norma and I arrived around 3 in the afternoon on Thursday. We had heard that the layout of the festival was changed and we wanted to get a good spot, as in “The early bird gets the worm”. When we arrived we requested a spot towards the back, after looking over the site map and seeing that the judges’ tent, Porta Johns and parking were all close to this area. We were shown to a spot that fit this criteria and to top it off, we were right behind Broke Bob’s BBQ. After parking the trailer and setting up the canopy I hooked up the electric and looked for the water connection. It was then that I was informed that there was no running water for the whole section that we were located in. This was not the way I wanted to start our season. You see the team had pitched in and bought a new instant water heater to make it easier to heat water for dishes and whatever. The catch is you can’t use the heater without running water and we didn’t bring our turkey fryer to do that chore as we’ve always done. I was about to request another site when our good neighbor and friend Bob from Broke Bob’s BBQ offered us the use of his turkey fryer. We gratefully accepted and stayed put. It would have been nice to know that only about half the teams would have running water even though we all paid the same amount for our sites. Oh well, moving onward. Thursday night Norma and I stayed in a local hotel and arrived early Friday morning to resume setting up the site. Trina & Mike along with Michael and Maddie arrived soon after and the site quickly took shape. Since the forecast was so bad, we decided to set up with as minimum amount of equipment as possible. Pat, Bertie and Stephanie arrived a bit later and after meat inspection, we went about prepping the meats, then had the afternoon to relax. This gave us time to walk around and visit friends we hadn’t seen since last year. It’s always fun to catch up and see what everyone did over the winter and what comps they planned on doing this year. Around 7:30PM or so, most of the crew went back to the hotel for the evening and myself, Mike and Stephanie settled in for the evening. The band on stage made an announcement about 8:30 or so that under the direction of the Sherriff’s Dept, the festival was closing for the night due to the impending storm. Nothing makes you feel quite as good as know that you’re about to spend the night under a canopy in the middle of a severe thunderstorm. We got the pits lit and the butts and brisket on before the storm hit and tried to relax. When the storm did hit it hit with a vengeance and we scrambled around securing equipment, duct taping canopy sides that ripped away from the supports and kept our finger crossed. The worst of the storm was from 2:30-5:30AM Saturday morning and after a very long night we emerged. A bit wet and very tired, but thankful that no major damage occurred and nobody was injured, though a few canopies did not survive the night. Despite battling the storm and pit temperatures we were in pretty good shape. Saturday morning brought calm skies, hot coffee and we went about our prep for chicken and ribs. The cook went pretty well and we thought we turned out some pretty good BBQ. The whole clan was back by now and we boxed up our entries and turned them into the judges. It was all in their hands now. After relaxing for a bit and going over the cook in our heads, it was time to start cleaning up and breaking down the site. Awards were scheduled for 5:00PM and we carried our chairs to the stage and listened to Smokin Gunzz for awhile before awards started. We didn’t cook any of the ancillary categories because we didn’t know when the weather was going to hit and instead concentrated on the 4 main categories. Chicken was the first of those announced and we didn’t hear Pigheaded BBQ called for an award. Alas we did not hear Pigheaded BBQ called for any of the awards. Score sheets were to be passed out after the Grand Champion was announced and with baited breath I went up and received ours. The results were: 28th overall out of 106 teams. Chicken-12th, Ribs-42nd, Pork-69th and Brisket 49th. While these were certainly not the results we hoped for, we realized that that it was definitely better than the last 2 years here. We generally consider Salisbury our test comp before the season begins and hope to get better from here. I want to congratulate Jay from 4:20 Q for winning GC and Bob & Kenny from BBQ Guru for RGC. Great cook guys. As always it was good to see our BBQ friends and thanks for the support from all of our family and friends. Next up is our hometown competition in Middletown on May 17-18. Hope to see you there.