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Great American BBQ Tour Stop #4 – Rock’n Ribs

April 23, 2009
The 10th Annual Rock’n Ribs BBQ Festival in Springfield, Mo., was the fourth stop for the Great American BBQ Tour. While this was the first year the Great American BBQ Tour stopped at Rock’n Ribs, it was the eighth time Chris and I have been to the event. Since this is our hometown event, I also serve on the Executive Committee and know how much work goes into this event every year. Over the last nine years, the event has raised $570,000 for Children’s Charities of the Ozarks.

We pulled the trailer in on Thursday morning before most of the 58 teams started rolling in. While there are some teams at Rock’n Ribs that compete at multiple events, like Hog Tide and Quau, most of the teams are local, so the set-ups are quite elaborate and include lots of friends.

Friday night is an invitation-only VIP party with private parties and public sampling, so we had great attendance for our Friday night demonstration. It rained once again, but luckily it was really just a light drizzle.

Our team, Two Sows and a Boar, won first place in the Rib category last year at Rock’n Ribs. With last year’s Rib victory, we did double duty this year. We held our BBQ Tour demonstrations, competed in the event, cooked for a private party Friday night and cooked 22 racks of ribs for the 417 Saturday night. 417 is the local magazine and a BBQ King sponsor of Rock’n Ribs.

With everything going on, we needed some help. So I called some friends that we met in January at the Kooker’s Kare dinner – Andy and Kim, who cook as “Smoke on Wheels.” They were not too shabby, if I say so myself. They pitched in and helped with everything. While I only asked that Andy cook chicken for the contest, he slapped together some ingredients and cooked a brisket that placed eighth. Our ribs placed second overall while Southeast Rotary placed first. I guess they get to cook all the ribs next year.

The rain let up on Saturday morning and seemed like it would stay away for most of the day. All the teams cook for public sampling on Saturday, which starts after all the competition turn-ins. There are lines of people going from team to team, so I had a captive audience for my Saturday demonstration. I did have a little competition with the Pittman’s BBQ team though. They had a guy dressed all in pink with a tutu, fuzzy hat and pig nose, but I had the speaker system. He didn’t stand a chance.

We were finishing our food sampling when the heavens opened up, and boy, did it rain. We had probably 20 people huddling under our KCBS tent until it passed over. We were lucky and had a window of opportunity to hold the awards ceremony on the KCBS stage. We were in an open area that allowed all the teams to see and hear the awards ceremony.

Here I thought that my day was about over when Phoebe, who is in charge of teams and awards, asked me to MC the awards ceremony. I was the backup in case the local news anchors, Joe and Christine Daues, weren’t available. Lucky for me, I was just the warm-up act as the anchors showed up with Joe having BBQ sauce all over his face.

As awards were being announced, Clark Kent Super Cookers had one of the largest groups of well wishers. Clark Kent won the Best in Show award and also placed in the top 10 in three categories. At most events, this would result in best overall or Grand Champion of the event. At Rock’n Ribs, the point spread for the first through fifth team was less than three points though. Clark Kent placed fourth, Chris, Kim, Andy and I placed third and Quau placed second by only .002 points. Team Half-Sauced won their second Grand Championship in as many weeks. This is not only a testament to the good cooking teams at Rock’n Ribs, but also to the KCBS system and certified judges, who gave their time and effort to judge.

Off now to Indio, California, and the Stagecoach Festival.

Mike (& Chris) Peters
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