Celebrating the 4th in NapervilleJuly 9, 2008 Naperville is in the books. We had a great festival and met a lot of wonderful people.
Right after Milwaukee, Chris and I flew out of Chicago to Phoenix for her grandmother's surprise 90th birthday party. We got to see two of our daughters, and most of Chris' family. It was great to see the kids and I had a wonderful time with two of my nephews who stayed in our condo - they want to go on the tour with us next year so I hope they work cheap! We also got to see my cousins who live at the edge of civilization close to the base of one of the mountains. We got to meet all their animals from cats, goats, emu, donkeys and Honey the cow. It was really beautiful when we left to see the sun going down over the mountain... Other than the 114 degree weather, I can see why they love living there.
I flew back to Chicago on Wednesday to set up at the event and Chris flew in Friday. My dad lives in the area and played chauffer for both of us and even got to see our demo on Friday. The Weber team came out on Thursday for the demo and I got to meet the gentleman who coined the "Kick'n Chicken" name for the seasoning. It was nice to get their input on the tour and we hope to set up a tour of their processing plant on our trip to Des Moines.
One nice perk to the tour is getting to meet the KCBS members. We have special KCBS bumper stickers for members and it is neat when they show up with their membership cards or CBJ name badges. Joey Mac, a KCBS member who competes and is from Naperville, helped with the sampling on Thursday and set-up on Friday and Marc Gonick, a KCBS member and CBJ, was nice enough to bring his girlfriend Whitney along to help with the sampling and demo on Saturday. We had a great time visiting about BBQ and stepping "outside the box" to do what you love. I did relate our leaving our stable "jobs" to travel the country and have no regrets... at least not yet!
Ted Nugent was the opening act on Thursday and I was kinda hoping he would bring over something he had killed to grill it onstage with me during our demo but he never showed.
Friday being the Fourth was exciting. People kept coming in the gates and we had a great crowd for our demo. Our spot was about as far away from the stage as you could get and really was a nice walking area. People would bring in chairs and blankets and set up close to the stage and work their way out. Close to 6pm, they were getting closer and closer to our spot and by 6:45, they were setting up right in front of our trailer. We packed everything up and found a nice family to take over our stage to take care of it and by the time we hit the exit gate, they shut down letting people in due to capacity. They estimated over 60,000 people. As we were driving to the hotel, people were still streaming into the area and were setting up in any grassy area for blocks around the event.
Our spot was great as BP had their air conditioned bathroom next door. Porta Potties just don't hold a candle to these units - If you are ever at an event with one, I strongly suggest using them instead. =0) There was an exhibit on Abraham Lincoln and as we were visiting with the couple running it, we found out that they were from Neosho, right down the road from Springfield, MO where we are from. It is nice to have little reminders of home - every time we pass a Bass Pro Shop, we think of home and the Granddaddy of all Bass Pro Shops right there in Springfield. We suggest that anybody in the area next Fourth of July, please take in this event. It is run by the Exchange Club(s) and last year they gave over $800,000 to charities, mainly those helping abused kids.
We are now heading to New Jersey and Chris even mentioned how crazy it will be to have been in every time zone within just a couple of days.
Mike & Chris