BBQ Tour Stop #20 - 23rd Annual Cherokee Strip Cook-OffSeptember 21, 2009 Chris and I headed out to the 23rd Annual Cherokee Strip Cook-Off held on Lake Ponca in Ponca City, OK. The weather called for a slight chance of rain but everything missed the lake, which made for a beautiful Friday. As we pulled up, you could see some of the Professionals Today Group, who organize the event, doing a “happy dance” to welcome us to the site. The group is made up of women business leaders from the community who come together to raise money for Hospice of Northern Oklahoma. These ladies put on a top-notch event.
We set up under a full shade tree and had a clear view of the tranquil water of Lake Ponca. Teams loaded in all afternoon and topped off at 50 teams, up from 36 last year. As we were setting out our normal15 white chairs, another 30 blue chairs showed up. Since we were the only entertainment on Friday evening, we felt a bit of pressure to fill them. The organizers did a great job of promoting the BBQ Tour so it was standing room only and we had a wonderful time meeting new friends.
The event shirts even had last year’s logo and showed the “three amigo’s” following the Great American BBQ Tour! When we checked into the hotel, we were greeted by a flyer promoting the cook-off with a picture of the truck and trailer. Louise with the local newspaper gave me a copy of the paper that had the cook-off and tour all over it. Erin, the chairperson of the event, even brought over the state representative to show off the Governor’s proclamation that included the Ponca City Mayor’s proclamation referencing the KCBS Great American BBQ Tour!
Saturday was another beautiful day. At 12:30, the people’s choice tasting started after the final category turn-in. It was elbow to elbow with people tasting championship BBQ from some of the teams like Cookshack, Smoke on Wheels, Butcher BBQ, Head Country Barbecue and the HUGE contingent from Smokin’ Amigos. We had another great crowd for our demonstration and an even larger crowd for our Grill Master competition, where we ended up pitting cook team against cook team with Tonya from Yankee Doodle BBQ and Nick from the Smokin’ Amigos. This was also the first time that we had an even-steven tie based upon KCBS guidelines of appearance, taste and tenderness.
Chris and I took over the big stage and announced the team awards. Luckily, I didn’t butcher any names. The neat thing about the Cherokee Strip Cook-Off was the outstanding community support with donations. Each team that “walked” got an additional gift ranging from an event-appropriate “salad” spinner to the Grand Champion FEC 100, which went to Kosmo’s Q. The large group from Smokin’ Amigos won people’s choice for both Chili and BBQ. I personally crowned them the most enthusiastic team because every time I said “Smokin’ Amigos”, they all jumped up in their bright yellow shirts screaming and waving. I even abused my microphone privileges and said “Smokin’ Amigos” just to hear them yell. That was until the sound guy unplugged me.
It was great to have some of the Professional Today ladies put the checkmark on the back of the trailer, signifying another stop on the Great American BBQ Tour had come to a successful end.
Mike (& Chris) Peters