Posts Tagged ‘American Royal Invitational’

The American Royal Invitational & Open Oh my flip what a trip…

* Picture courtesy of Sean Moffat  Red Valley BBQ

Team Diva Q- Lexi, Ella, Gabe, Vlado, Danielle Dimovski


So the family all 5 of us packed into the truck and cargo trailer with enough equipment and stuff for 3 competitions and we hit the road to Kansas City Missouri. We had the privilege of competing in both the invitational and the open portions of the contests.

We decided due to our little ones to do a large portion of the first leg of the drive at night. We made incredible time and arrived in Kansas about 6 hours ahead of our schedule….

The trip was really uneventful. We even breezed through customs. a first for us for the entire year. We usually allocate at least an hour or so to get through since we always seem to be getting inspected. We never have anything thats contraband but Homeland Security does their job faithfully. We did however get to have a really good donut on the road from a place called Casey’s General Store a chain of convenience stores that carries really darn good donuts. (* I have my BBQ BFF Angie Quaale to thank for my new obsession with donuts she can smell out a good donut from 100 miles away)

We had one issue on the way that caused us considerable pain. Our 6 year old daughter Ella is a Vegetarian with exceptions. Notable she loves bacon and ribs and then all things vegetable. We had picked up a 2 lb bag of green beans.

She decided to eat the entire bag. Lets just say the windows were down for many miles after her indulgence. Ack. Stinky!

One of the best parts of this trip was heading to our good friends Andy and Kim’s house from Smoke on Wheels.  Our kids like hanging out with their kids and staying at their house was a whole lotta fun. Additionally Neil Big Mista Strawder and Shelly Hunt from Desperados BBQ were also hanging at their house. Just saying but a few adult beverages may have been consumed prior to this video.

Andy knows where to get everything you would ever need in the Kansas City area and arriving ahead of schedule we got to drop the trailer off early on Wednesday. Driving in was a thrill and sheesh is this place ever big. The you tube videos I had seen of it in the past in no way give you the magnitude of the location. It is awe inspiring. My backing up the trailer skills are poor on a good day so I can’t imagine having to do it in a field of other trailers already crammed in. Andy ended up backing it in anyways.

I also got a tour around the facility by Andy who has been many times before. Cool to see a lot of the artwork and attractive posters.

Then we were off to a really cool store Ambrosi Brothers Cutlery. I left my knives to be sharpened and picked up another knife, case and covers as well.

We could not be all the way into Kansas and Missouri without stopping at the Kansas City BBQ Store and Eating at Oklahoma Joes. Good places both of them and conveniently for us side by side.

Oklahoma Joes had great food and a sammie called a Z Man Sandwich. Just abut everything was great but we found the pork a bit dry. We were there after the lunch rush though.

On another evening we attended a Pre Royal Party at Knuckleheads. It was once heck of an adventure to get to this place. Its is literally out in the middle of an industrial park directly next to a set of train tracks and one of the best places I have ever been to listen to some awesome music.
The musical guest for the evening was Tab Benoit. He rocked the house and everyone was up dancing carousing and having a great time. Many pops were consumed and we had a blast with many BBQ Brethren, the Smokin Scotsmen’ , Shelley Hunt from Desperados, the British BBQ team, Karen Walker,  my BBQ BFF Angie & Dennis Quaale, and their fab kids Andrew and Kim and a bunch of other people. Here is a video I took the sound bites royally wish my BB had better video capability.


So much excitement and we had not even begun the competition yet. I loved coming in early!!
After Knuckleheads we headed back to Kim and Andy’s house. Andy helped me pick out the ribs from the selection I had that I would use for the next two competitions. I made a decision to use St. Louis spares for both competitions. It had been a while (with the exception of BBQ Pitmasters) since I had used them in competition. Then we all headed to bed and then got up early to head to the site.
Setting up was easy and we had the pleasure to have very nice neighbors on either side of us. #709 three Little Kettles (who provided our kids with an entire play table full of coloring books stickers and more!! they were incredibly kind!) and #705 Pop’s Blazin Smokers (they did gator on the Traeger!!)

I got everything prepped for the Invitational and we went and did some visiting. This was the hardest contest I have ever had to concentrate at. There are so many people you would like to get around to see and visit with and its always a race against the clock to get back in time.
One of our neighbors behind us was Mike & Debbie Davis from Lotta Bull. I tried shigging (at least I admit it) from him but he was too far away. Darn.

Another one of the highlights for me was getting to see my dear friends Roni & Kelly Wertz, Joey McManus, and Chris Jones. We missed Dave Raymond though in our Royal Experience.

So many great people to see……

I took a video walking around a bit.

I even went over to the dark side one night accompanied by a really big strong Texan and a guy from Illinois that can run really fast if needed

Those people on the dark side are certifiably insane. You could not pay me to BBQ on that side. Too many parties people throwing up and a whole lot of debauchery. Not my cup of tea really.
Since we had the kids with us we were really protective of our site space. Noting some previous experiences that friends of mine have also had at the Royal we purchased locks for all of our BBQ’s so they and the meats inside didn’t walk off. We also blocked off the front of our site and our neighbors put up fences so people would stop walking through our site. Once secured it made the experience a whole lot more pleasant.

I had some awesome visitors to our site Jim “Rhino” Reincke was just one of them. He is sooo funny.  I don’t think there is enough net space to list just how much I appreciated each of our visitors. They were all terrific to see!!

We headed out to one of the pot lucks we had been invited to. Sadly you just can’t get around to everything you get invited to. It was the annual Wertz Royal Prime Rib dinner. It was awesome. We brought a peach cobbler and there was so much food and all of it was delicious.

The day of the Invitational dawned and we received a really nice present a box of donuts from our friends Sean and Adriane Moffat. God Bless them both for their kindness!! Sean also took pictures throughout the weekend. We really appreciate that as well. MMMM Red velvet donuts. Yummy!!


Everything for the invitational ran really smoothly until the rib category. The ribs were soft and mushy and I was ticked to say the least. I had been checking them so often I was shocked to see them go so soft so fast. We turned them in but I knew they would not do well. At least the box looked good. Overall in the other categories of brisket, pork, and chicken I was really happy with what we turned in. The brisket was especially good. We had 3 different briskets and all of them turned out the best we had made for the year.

Doing all of the side dishes wiped me right out. Beans, vegetable, dessert and potatoes. Its a lot of turnins for one cook to handle. We got them in just barely in some cases. Most notable the vegetable category which we had mixed up with the bean turn in time. We ended up grilling a vegetable sidedish and turning it in all within 8 minutes. Holy cow batman that was a close one for sure. Please note in future I will read the rules a little more carefully on turn in times.

Mike Mills stopped by and he hung out in our trailer while I was prepping our dessert, It was great to see him again. Such a legend of BBQ glad to be able to call him and Amy our friends. Didn’t even have time to get a picture with him LOL.

Much thanks to Sean Moffat for help with blocking when we were delivering our dessert there were so many people I don’t think we could have done it without him!!

Sean got a nice picture with him in front of our sign


We cleaned ourselves up grabbed a cocktail and headed to the awards.

It was a thrill to hear our team name called for a 6th place in brisket. It was AWESOME!!!!


I was so excited I thought I was going to pass out……
At the end of the awards ceremony we were thrilled to see the results of the pork 30th, chicken 26th, and brisket 6th for a 35th place overall.
I was horrified and embarrassed though to see out ribs had come 4th from last 127th UGH. I knew they were overcooked. Damn. That sucked so bad.
Congratulations to Smokers Wild on the GC and Tippy Canoe BBQ Crew for their RGC!!! Also congratulations to Smoky D’s BBQ for getting a perfect 180 in their pork.

Also congratulations to Mike & Beth Woziak from Quau who won the Kingsford Cup and a check for $25,000!!

Another cool thing I got to see was my friend Jenny Windsor from Black Cat BBQ getting a 6th in ribs then to see her brand spanking new Sisters In Smoke Tattoo!! That makes three of us that have them now!! To all the other ladies of Q you need to get one as well!!


Then you get to do it all over again. You are tired, the awards ceremony has been the thrill of the day and you need to keep focused and go back to the trailer and complete another competition. Its not easy. I only slept 1.25 hours that night, I was behind in prep, making parsley boxes and taking care of the meats. Anyone who thinks competitive BBQ is not a sport should try to do 2 competitions back to back.

Our kids also enjoyed the fireworks before heading off to bed. Sadly we had broken our tent pole when setting up so we had their bedroom set up in a 10×10 easy up with their inflatable couch and mattress. I think they had probably 10 blankets on top of their sleeping bags. They were sure comfy!

Even though I was behind I went for a little walk to clear my head and visit with a few folks as well.  Figured that it would be a good think to relax just a bit before getting serious again.

Dawn came really early and we were all set.

A girl needs a little Canadian Mojo in the AM so crown Royal shots were taken around for anyone who wanted one!

I had to grill some of our Canadian bacon (sweet cured pork loin rolled in cornmeal) we had brought with us to hand out to our friends.

Plus I was in dire need of caffeine so I whipped up a batch of my legendary competition sludge a compilation of 5 shots instant espresso, and super strongly brewed Starbucks coffee with powdered whitener and sugar. It is guaranteed to get your butt in gear.

So much so that when I was walking about Phil from the Brethren made a comment that I could not stay still for a second. It gets you moving for sure….

Back to the grind…..

Brisket was looking great again.

Chicken was looking great! Ribs were good and they had awesome color and texture!

Pork got turned in and we had a whole lot of rejected meat !

Brisket gt turned in and I was really happy with it. Here is the chaos though that was left behind. I had tough time deciding which brisket to turn in.

Sausage came up last and I was sure glad we were done. I can’t remember ever entering a sausage category before so I just made a fatty of some sausage I liked to eat and hoped for the best. 

Once again it was time for the awards and we were wiped and excited all at the same time. My friends the Belly Brothers furnished me with a new favorite cocktail courtesy of team Jamaica its a combination of Appleton Estates Rum and Coconut water. Yummy stuff.

I loaded up my pockets with my good luck charms, an acorn from my daughter Ella, a poker chip with the Pellet Envy logo on it, a rubber chicken and a pig flash light. I was also wearing a cancer awareness Angel Ribbon Pin from Flower of the Flames on behalf of Karen Putnam.

Photo credit Karen Dove BBQ TV

Then we were all off to the awards again- this time over 500 teams were in attendance (participating teams 490)

*My BBQ BFF Angie Quaale from Completely Q-less at the awards

It was again a thrill to hear our name called this time though it was for a 12th place in ribs. I had tears in my eyes accepting this one. I was standing behind Mike Davis and was joking with him -I really think he thought I was going to pass out as well.

I have to admit a few emails during the night and early morning got my confidence back up about ribs after the demoralizing finish in the Invitational. The person who sent them is a good friend and Ill keep their name to myself  but you know who you are. Thanks for the kind words of encouragement it meant a lot to me. I took your advice,  I went back to an old recipe I haven’t used in 2 years with one minor twist I added a new rub. Here is of the rubs I used..

Usually I would not mention what rub I used but this was really special since it was from a dear friend Chris Jones from Colins Creek Barbecue one of my all time favorite BBQ people on the planet.

We joked prior to the awards on how cool it would be if I got a call in ribs. The rub has not been out that long. It really is terrific. You all need to try it.

The awards ceremony was coming to a close and hearing friends names get calls was incredible. We also got a 6th place call in Potatoes. That cracked me right up..I had no idea what to do for the potato category. Our friends Kim and Andy were heading to a difference potluck from the night before and were making their dish Ho De Ho potatoes. Since they were not entering any of the sidedish categories I asked if I could use their recipe. I entered it thinking it was a good dish that everyone like to eat at potlucks. It worked LOL

When it came time for the overall standings I was busy chatting up with our friends. Then the shock of a lifetime came Diva Q came in 10th overall. Oh my flip. I think I blanked out for a minute. What a cool thing to happen.

The awards continued on and 3rd place went to Pelletheads.com

RGC went to Swine Assassins and the GC went to Lotta Bull for the 4th time!!!

I came away from the Royal with absolutely no prize money at all. I have never been happier….. The trip was expensive for us. It was time consuming exhausting it was a lot of planning and juggling of schedules and at times extremely stressful and fun all at the same time. Seeing our friends and BBQ family plus meeting folks I have only dreamed of meeting plus being with our own family was without a doubt one of the highlights of my BBQ career. I can never thank my friends and family enough for their support their love and unending belief in my obsession that is BBQ. I would do it all again in a heartbeat. I can’t wait for next year.

More Pictures from the event can be found on our facebook Diva Q American Royal Album !

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