Those Pesky BBQ Gremlins...

Dear BBQ Friend:

In 2010, Chatham Artillery's first contest of the year was in Thomaston, GA. It was at a beautiful location on a lake. I thought it was a public park at first, but the guy running the show said it was built by his Grandfather. Anyway... I learned, or should I say re-learned, two important lessons in Thomaston...bbq gremlin

1) Don't try new stuff at a contest! Contests are not a place to practice your BBQ skills. Just about every single time I have "experimented" at a contest, it has failed. Practice at home and bring what you know works to the contest and do not deviate from the game plan. I tried drumsticks in Thomaston, but I wanted to turn in thighs too. The FBA requirements say you have to have 8 pieces in a box. So I tried putting 6 drumsticks and 6 thighs in one box since there are only 6 judges. I should have known that it would be a tight squeeze. Should have practiced at home. The box didn't look too good as I had to cram the thighs in there vertically...

2) Watch out for those BBQ gremlins! Those BBQ gremlins are out there. They do exist. I have seen them with my own eyes. Now if I can only get a picture of one! Be prepared for things that might go wrong. Those BBQ gremlins are mischievous little devils. If they see an opportunity to make things go wrong, they will take it. For example, the power was terrible in Thomaston which the gremlins probably caused by chewing on the wires and flipping the circuit breaker when nobody was looking. This wreaked havoc on my pellet smokers. I could hear those pesky gremlins giggling behind Myron's F-250. As a result, my ribs burnt up like I had never seen before. During the foiling stage, the sugars burnt to a crisp so bad I could not unfold the ends of the foil packs. They were black. But since I had six racks, I was somewhat prepared for those little devils and I managed to find 8 half way decent ribs from the middle of the burnt spareribs. Thank God I had 6 racks to choose from. I'll bring an inverter to my next contest!

I placed 23rd in chicken, 16th in ribs, 8th in pork, and 11th in brisket. 13th overall. By the way... Thomaston was one of the most competitive contests I have seen in a long time. Along with about five members, there were about 10 other very good teams there like Jack's Old South, Jus Fer Fun, Rescue Smokers, Bub-Ba-Q, Forrest's Fine Foods, Munchees Smokehouse, Sweat's BBQ, and many more. Any one of them could have taken grand but Rescue Smokers walked away with the honors!

Our second contest of the year, the Barnesville, GA BBQ and Blues festival, resulted in a little better 4th place overall with 4th in ribs and 5th in pork. The BBQ gremlins were swarming en masse in Barnesville and literally falling out of the sky. The weather forecast was for 50% chance of rain, but it poured down rain from Friday night to about 3:00 PM on Saturday. After dealing with those gremlins in Thomaston, I came prepared for Barnesville with a 10x10 canopy and a 12x12 canopy. They both came in handy. Other than the rain, everything was OK in Barnesville. Jack's Old South took top honors with Hoochee Que taking reserve. Followed by Bub-Ba-Q, Chatham Artillery BBQ, Swamp Boys, and Bethel Smokers.barnesville bbq contest

I'm bringing a big ole can of BBQ gremlin repellant to Waynesboro, GA! Look Out Gremlins!

What's next? Swarms of mosquitos? Gnats? Heat? High winds? More rain? The moral of the story is... Be Prepared!

Wether you are cooking in your back yard or going to a contest, prepare for what "could" go wrong and you'll be way ahead of those pesky BBQ gremlins!

Here's some tips...

  • Check the weather forecast before you leave and bring enough canopies to cover all your important stuff in case of rain. Prepare for heat too with enough shade canopies and fans. In extreme heat, those misters are nice too.
  • Also... tie down your canopies. You can bring empty 5 gallon buckets and fill them with water when you get there. Then tie your corners to the buckets. Those canopies will fly off like a kite if you don't.
  • Survey your site and place your equipment accordingly. Stay away from low spots and places where water may accumulate. The guy next to me in Barnesville was out in the street and a raging river washed through his site for two days. My site had 2 inches of water in it most of the weekend.
  • Bring tools and spare parts, tires, etc for fixing things that will break down.
  • Bring extra dry clothes and shoes. Rubber galoshes would have been nice in Barnesville. Umbrellas are handy too. Maybe some kind of light rain coat would have been nice too.
  • Have a dry place to sleep... a hotel room, inside an RV or trailer, etc.
  • I had one of those big plastic RubberMaid boxes in Barnesville that kept all my important stuff dry. Especially the brown sugar, rubs, and written timeline.
  • Plenty of dry towels and paper towels to wipe away the drips from the canopy leaks.
  • If it is important like electric cords, splitters, water hoses, nozzles, thermometers, etc bring extras.


Bill Anderson