08 April 2009

Contest Review: Clarksville, TN Porkin' in the Park 2009

Last Friday, Team Ulika headed one hour north to Clarksville, Tennessee for the second annual Porkin' In The Park. This year the contest was being held in downtown Clarksville due to a tornado that wiped out the pavilion where the contest was held last year. Just like last year, Clarksville was our first event of the season and we were trying out some new equipment. Last year it was our new Stumps and this year we were debuting our new trailer. This off season we purchased a CM 16' v-nose trailer to haul all of our gear. It is very nice to have our own trailer because we can get loaded up throughout the week instead of getting everything together on Thursday night. We had enough time to get the sink mounted in the trailer, but there are still several "upgrades" that are going to be made as time and $$$ permit.

Holding a contest in a downtown area can sometime present some challenges. Particularly the parking situation. There was one main parking lot that several teams were setup in and other teams were scattered amongst the city streets. We arrived around 9 am and quickly backed into our spot. As we were setting up we couldn't help but notice a brand new Geer pit parked across from us, and we were quickly greeted by Walt and Teressa of Smokin' Scotsmen. They are from Michigan and had traveled to Hammond, LA the previous week to compete then decided to catch another competition before they headed home.

BP arrived shortly after the mrs. and I got parked and we unloaded the now infamous couch. That's right, we take a couch to the contest. We figure if we are going to be sitting around for a couple of days, why not be comfortable. I mean you can only sit in those camping chairs for so long. Once everything was in place I prepped the meats while BP and the mrs. walked around downtown Clarksville. The KCBS Great America BBQ Tour was in town, and Mike Peters was giving demonstrations throughout the weekend promoting the KCBS and its sponsors.

After a quick cooks meeting, we hung around waiting on the Low Country boil. Wayne from Bubba's Tennessee Smokers provided everything for the boil and it was a glorious feast. Shrimp, sausage, corn and potatoes lined the tables for everyone to partake. Since the mrs. needed to catch up on the Friday night slice, we also took the opportunity to try a new pizza joint in Clarksville (check back Friday for more details on that).

Friday evening some friends Matt and Joel came up to take in the festivities. The previous week they cooked in their first KCBS backyard event in Auburn Alabama finishing 6th in ribs and 10th overall. As you can imagine, they caught the bug. They were a big help all weekend filling in for their cousins the Colvert brothers.

Friday night always gives us some down time to visit with friends and meeting new ones. We sampled some Apple Pie over at the DoRag camp, and we talked with Castaway Cookers (who were cooking in their first competition). I always try to talk with some of the teams that are doing their first competition, because if it weren't for other people helping me along I would have probably given up the competition bbq thing a long time ago. After roaming the grounds for a while I headed to the trailer to get some sleep. The air mattress and the space heater inside the trailer worked out great. I got up on Saturday morning and started to get everything in place to start the day. Luckily Teresa from the Smokin' Scotsman spotted me and realized I could use a nice hot cup of coffee. Then a few hours later The Scotsmen served up a nice breakfast which included biscuits and sausage gravy. These are some of the things that make it worth while traveling around to different contest.

Saturday morning started smoothly. The butts and briskets came off on schedule and Team Ulika didn't seem to miss at beat. We felt pretty good about everything we turned in and we did ok for the first contest of the year. Last year we received a first place call in the chicken category, but this year chicken ended up really hurting our overall score. After the fact, I realized there were some things I could have done better on my chicken. We did keep our steak alive in the brisket category getting our 6th consecutive call, placing 7th. Overall we finished 14th in a good crowd of cooks. Congrats to Smoky Mountain Smokers for their first place finish and to the Smokin' Scotsmen for their reserve championship. Also a big congrats goes out to DoRag for finishing in the Top 5. I have a feeling those guys are going to have a good year. Our next competition is quickly approaching as we head to our favorite spot, Winchester, TN. We have done well there the past couple of years and we hope to continue that this year. Congrats again to everyone who walked in Clarksville. Especially Swiggin Pig for the 1st place ribs and BigBriq for the first place brisket. We will see you all in Winchester.


Billy Carroll said...

Nice recap Rob! Thanks for the shout-out. Looking forward to Winchester!

Joel Cook said...

Matt and I had a wonderful time with you in Clarksville. I can always be on-call to fill in for a cousin or two. Wishing you guy's the best!