Ok so we are finally back home in Canada.

What a trip. I am completely 100% wiped out so this will be a brief recap LOL.

the Invitational BOTB in georgia was really a cool and interesting comp for sure. We got there on Wednesday to do our set up as we had to start cooking on Thursday night. For those who have not done a BOTB comp it is different for sure. No garnish whatsoever, no burnt ends (slices only) and a turn in tray the size of a small suitcase. it was a challenge!

We got an 11th in brisket and a 12 in pork plus a 20th in ribs. No calls to the stage but it did not matter we had a blast. The teams there were awesome to talk to and everyone in FBA row was outstanding as was Jimmie next to us, Bogies BEggin BBQ across from us, Mr & Mrs honcho, Rocky and his son, Merry Oakes BBQ team, and the Fat angel team. i know I am missing people for sure. We also got a great ambassador Ed. HE introduced us to some terrific locals (Jeremy, his wife and their kids) and some really colorful locals (we called them redneck 1.0 and redneck 2.0) He had fun with us for sure and we enjoyed sharing him with the BBQ effect team. And speaking of the BBQ effect they got a 1st in RIBS!!! WOOOOHOOOOOOOOOOOOO! We were so happy for them. They are great guys who are always fun to talk to whether it be 12 pm or 4am. always amusing for sure.

Now on Friday (the night of the open) it being Hallowe’em and all we though we might change things up a bit. Our daughter Lexi was missing her very first Hallowe’en. So this time we decided to hand out candy to all the teams. We walked around and had a lot of fun. I also tried my hand at carving a few pumpkins with our meat knives LOL> One was supposed to be a pig but was mistaken often for a cat and the others were a traditional face pumpkin and a pumpkin that had BBQ carved in it. thank goodness they were not judging pumpkins or I would have been DAL.

The people of Douglas and the BOTB organizers(thanks CAL!) did an OUTSTANDING job with the organization of this comp. Power and water at each individual site. A nice gift bag. Personal ash cans, garbage cans and recyclying stations at EACH comp site. Also people on golf carts drove by continuously either checking if we needed anything (ice supplies etc), picking up garbage and generally keeping everything in tip top shape. There were also continual presence of security, police, fire and EMS. I am convinced that every second person in Douglas owns a golf cart. Now I would be remiss if i did not talk about the Cake and Pie Lady. I mised her name but she is one of the Pastors wives. Now this lady never stopped baking and making food for all the volunteers and teams the entire time we were there. There was a wonderful hospitality suite for all of us to enjoy with fresh continual coffee, juices, snacks, chili, stew etc and the best pecan pie and peach cobbler I have ever had. This is such a great idea to have this suite as it is sometimes a challenge to get a bite to eat if you are busy or a nice cuppa of joe.

It was great to talk to Dr. Smoke and also Donna. they are terrific. We really love the Smokinlicious products and they are more than generous to us. they also made a really nice cold peach soup I got to enjoy immensely.
I also got to spend some time talking to Amy & Mike Mills again. This was good. This daughter and father combo are truly ambassadors of BBQ. We got talking about the upcoming NBBQA Convention in Austin, TX Feb. 18-21. Not sure if can make it this year but certainly something to think about for the future. Also their comp for next year Murphysboro Barbecue Cook-off September 24-26 is another I have on the radar.
Mike did a great job doing BBQ demos over the weekend. I was able to sit through most of one and I enjoyed it thoroughly. I wish I could have captured the look on people’s faces after eating their ribs and beans. LOL everyone had a good time.

On Friday night I ended up going back to the hotel with lexi for a some sleep and a much needed shower. this was the first time I have ever left a comp site for more than a couple of hours. It was not good. I tossed and turned and basically did not sleep much at all. Next time I am sending Vlado back to the hotel. At least then on my trusty military cot I get a solid 3-4 hours.

Saturday came and we got back on site early. Got the ribs on (they looked like CRAP). I have never had to take so much fat off of ribs in my life. These were not my Hovey’s ribs but some others I had picked up. Seriously crappy ribs.
All the meat came off in due course and things seemed to be going smoothly. However my ribs were not rendering down properly and were tough as nails. I foiled them a lot sooner than I have done in the past and they needed it. Got the turn in dones with no problem. Like the way the pork box looked hated the ribs completely and thought we did a great job on the brisket. I should have known better. You know every single time I have ever thought we turned in something good it scores REALLY badly. The brisket came in at a personal all time low of 32nd. UGh. However I got one heck of a surprise when we got a call for the 6th in ribs and the 8th in pork. WOOOHOOO!!!!!!!!!! we were shocked. Typically I am always shocked when we get called. It is just the way I am I guess. Considering the calibur of teams there we are thrilled with the results. We came in 22nd overall. The brisket really brought us down. Its just the way it goes. I think the final team count for the open was 74? not positive but we are happy with the entire trip.

One of the truly best parts of the weekend however was something I was not expecting. Dave from the BBQ effect and I got asked to be pie judges. Well OH My GOODNESS – I have never in the past 3 years ever seen Dave so animated and excited. For those of you who have met or know the BBQ effect team they are usually the most laidback, calm, collected and solidly grounded sane people on the BBQ circuit. Apparently all Dave needed to get him as hyper as a fox in a henhouse was a pie contest. Truly even as I type this I am giggling thinking how much of a change in his personality it was. I gotta say I am glad I got to judge pies with him. Fun as heck. One of the best memories I have is sitting there in one row with Mike Mills in another judging pies Dave beside me and we are giggling like little kids. i think we got into trouble for being so loud (and this time it was not just me Dave too!) but we were into a sugary haze euphoric state by this time. We had some good pie, some not so great pie and some outstanding pie. It was a lot of sweet potato and apple pie. By the time we were done pecan was finished so we missed out. That was ok the sugar rush lasted for HOURS! I gotta say that judging meat is easier than judging pie. Certainly memories I will cherish!!!

We ended up having a great time with the FBA row for a couple of hours after the awards and our cleanup. (Thank you BOB for helping Vlado with the tent. I promise to kep out of the way next time LOL)What a spread teh FBA put out. A huge seafood boil, sausage, potatoes, desserts – and not a single piece of BBQ anywhere God Bless them LOL. We would have liked to stay longer but we had one heck of a long drive ahead of us. So we left lamenting we were almost out of time.

So we headed out in the morning. I look back at the last couple of weeks and I feel blessed that we were able to do it. So many terrific people. Incredible the amount of people we met and the places we got to see. I got quite a few comments from people about this blog. I was surprised so many people were reading it. I hope I have helped show how passionate I am about BBQ and its people.

Over the last two weeks we also got to eat our fill of biscuits and gravy, fried chicken, collard greens, beans and all things from the south. Truly a culinary experience I loved. (My waist line is suffering for sure)

We will update with pictures when we upload them. I think this was a trip of a lifetime. One I hope to repeat in coming years. I can’t wait to see most of these people again. They made the trip so special to us.

Thats it for now. We have a winter of saving money and getting some practices in.

I would be remiss if I did not mention some people who made this trip possible:
Traeger Canada
Hovey’s Gourmet Meats
Basques Charcoal
Nickelbrook Beer
Buster Rhinos Sauces and Rubs
Alcan (Novelis)

Now I started writing a thank you to the many individual people who have been so supportive of us here in Canada and the US and the list is so long I would not want to miss anyone. So I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your sincere help. you know who you are.