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BBQbyDan (Coyote Road Kill) hits the road for 11 days to participate in the American Royal BBQ Cook-Off, September 27 through October 7th, 2003
 

  
  Dan & Barbara Cannon, Gary Balbach, & Bill White
 

Team Coyote Road Kill "highlight" scores:

  • 5th for Dessert, (180 score, there were five 180's)

  • 6th in Pork Butt at the "OPEN" Cook-Off (400 teams competing)

Team Coyote Road Kill drove 4 days from California to arrive at the American Royal, stayed for 5 days at our assigned Cook-Off site, cooking in the Invitational, the Open, and ALL side categories, then drove 3 days to get home.
 

  We had an exciting and fun trip.  A once in a lifetime event for certain.  The specifics of our entries and placements are listed below:
 
 

62 

nd  

Overall, Meat, with 400 teams!
OPEN Contest, Saturday

262 

nd

   Chicken

151 

st

   Ribs

th

   Pork Shoulder Butt

61 

st

   Beef Brisket

243 

rd

   Sausage


th

Overall, Dessert, with 98 teams, 
we were in a 5-way tie for 1st
 
with the highest score obtainable of 180!

th

   Dessert (scored 180 !!! )


63 

rd

Overall, Sides,
 with 152 teams!
OPEN Contest, Saturday

64 

th

   Beans

32 

nd

   Potatoes

 76 

th

   Vegetables


 67 

th

Overall, Meat, with 85  teams!
   
INVITATIONAL Contest, 
Friday

25 

th

   Pork Shoulder Butt

52 

nd

   Ribs

70 

th

   Chicken

74 

th

   Beef Brisket


 

 Departure to the Royal
 The departure and travel phase of the trip to the American Royal BBQ Cook-Off in Kansas City Missouri was unlike any other BBQ Cook-Off I have ever had the pleasure of traveling to or cooking in.  With 5 days (Wednesday - Sunday) required at the cook-off site  we had to figure how long we were willing to drive each day to get there.  We decided not to die on the road everyday.  So, we planned on taking four days there and four days back, which averages out to about 400 miles per day.
  
Because my portion of the team consist of Barbara (my wife) and two Beagle dogs I need to travel with housing.  It was decided that I would tow my travel trailer and fill it with all the necessities of home to last for 2 weeks.   Bill Wight would haul our cooking rig, <Big Red>, and Gary Balbach would travel in his large RV diesel pusher towing an errand-running vehicle.  The plan was to meet at 4 different camping locations each evening between 16:00 - 19:00.  Bill and I met  Saturday morning (9/27/03) at 06:00 at my house in Agua Dulce California, hooked and packed up, and headed off to our campsites in  Flagstaff Arizona, 480 miles down the road, for our first evening.  We planned on getting in about 5pm at the latest.  Well, if you have not been on the interstates lately you might get a rude awakening when everything comes to a stand-still for road repairs!  We hit a 90 minute delay at the mountain summit in Flagstaff, still 50 miles from our campsite.  Finally, pulled in around 6:30 pm and the first day is over!
  
To make a long story short we ended up hitting road construction fairly often all the way to Kansas City along highway 40 (southern route) and along highway 70 (northern route) coming back home.   We stayed in Tucumcari New Mexico the 2nd night, Guthrie Oklahoma the 3rd night, and  Bonner Springs Missouri the 4th night.  Bonner Springs being just 17 miles from the American Royal Arena.  We left Bonner Springs Wednesday morning and pulled into our cooking spot, #166, at about 10:30 am.  Other than a very rainy and windy Tuesday, from Guthrie to Bonner Springs, the trip and weather was great and we had no problems.
  

Arrival at Lot B
 We were the very first team to arrive and start setting up Wednesday morning, about 10:30am, in the B Parking lot.  Our assigned spot was clearly marked so it was easy to position the two RV's, cooking rig (Big Red), and the travel trailer in an optimum position.  Had we attempted to do this Thursday with other teams and rigs already in place it would have been a nightmare, if not impossible,  to jockey our trucks and large RV's around.  We then spent the next 4 hours setting up our home for the next 4 days and removing all the road dirt and grime from the rigs and our equipment to make it all presentable and of "show piece" quality for the other teams and public.  Our location would have been the 3rd row from the right and 2/3rd towards the end reference the picture below.
  

Aerial_B_Lot11.jpg (34300 bytes)

Lot B, where the Invitational Teams arrive at, and where we were all weekend
   

Setup and Side Entry Preparation
As I mentioned above it took us 4 hours to setup and get everything prepared for the tasks and events ahead of us.   Items we needed to be concerned about were winds, rain, cold, getting power to our site, and protecting our new home from the ten's of thousands of people that would arrive Friday afternoon and evening.  One almost needs to try and build barricades and barriers to guide the public around and not through ones home site.   As it turned out the weather was picture-perfect literally all weekend.

The final concern for Wednesday afternoon and evening was prepping and preparing for the all the meat and  "side" entries that needed to be turned in over the next four days.   We entered all categories and events, as in:

- The Invitational Cook-Off, Thursday-Friday, 4 meat categories (chicken, pork ribs, pork butt, & beef brisket),  for an invited 85 champion teams

- The Open Cook-Off, Friday-Saturday, 4 meat categories (same meats as above), for 400 teams

- The Sausage, Potato, Vegetable, Bean, and Dessert individual categories turned in during the Open Cook-Off

 Since we had 4 entries due for the "Invitational" on Friday and nine entries due for the "Open" on Saturday  there literally was no free time from the moment we arrived to the time that we left Sunday morning.
 
Just for one of the 13 entries, the Dessert item, Bill and Barb had to take a trip to Home Depot and Wal-Mart to acquire the hardware to create a serving platter that could handle eight 7 inch plates for  Bill's Pears Charlotte entry.  For some of the other entries cooking and prepping started on Wednesday after arrival and continued on until the event was over.
  

Venue and weather
What a GREAT venue and GREAT weather!  It rained for about 30 minutes very early Friday morning.  The rest of the time it was in the 80's and t-shirt weather.  From what I have heard and from one past experience at the 2001 American Royal the weather can be very cold, rainy, and windy.  We were very lucky in that regard and it made for a fantastic time.
 
Reference to the venue one could not have asked for a more cooker friendly, better organized, or easier to work with, overall environment.  Cook-Off volunteers and staff were going about on golf carts, asking how they could help us, bringing water, bringing ice, ensuring all our meats were inspected, ensuring we were registered, and whatever else it took to make everything perfect.  If there was something that needed to be done they would do it or take a team member in the golf cart to accomplish the task.  
     

The "Invitational" Cook-Off, 85 INVITED Teams
The Invitational, which we did NOT do so well in (67th out of 85 championship teams) was really a breeze to do (maybe that was our problem).  The first, Chicken, of the 4 meat entries was due at noon and each subsequent entry due at 30 minute intervals.  The four entries were chicken, ribs, pork butt, and brisket.  No sausage, tritip, side dishes, or anything-goes type categories.  
 
We started the pit and prepped the briskets and butts Thursday night.  Put the butts and briskets on late Thursday evening.  Got up Friday morning, fueled the pit, prepped the ribs, got them on the pit, then prepped chicken and prepared for the pit.  All in all that part was easy.  Our results are posted below.

25  

th

   Pork Shoulder Butt

  85 entries

52  

nd

   Pork Ribs

  85 entries

70  

th

   Chicken

  85 entries

74  

th

   Beef Brisket

  85 entries

  

The "OPEN" Cook-Off, 400 Teams
The Open, which we were very happy with, was a bit more difficult overall.  We had 9 entries to enter versus the 4 entries in the Invitational and 5x the amount of teams.  However, we had the benefit of having just performed a practice round the day before in cooking for the Invitational.  So, we were better tuned as a team and probably better aware of what and how we had to do everything.  Too bad we kind of blew our Invitational event to have gained that practice, but we could only do what we could do. 

6  

th

   Pork Shoulder Butt

  400 entries

61  

st

   Beef Brisket

  400 entries

151  

st

   Pork Ribs

  400 entries

243  

rd

   Sausage

  400 entries

262  

nd

   Chicken

  400 entries

    

The Sausage, Vegetable, Potato, Bean, & Dessert Categories
Talk about a tight schedule!   The turn-in times for all these entries was very tight and occurred during the Open Cook-Off starting at 10:00 am Saturday.  We had to get the Vegetable, Potato, and Bean entries to the judging booth starting at 10:00 am then turn in subsequent  entries at 30 minute intervals.  The Sausage and Dessert went in after the Brisket starting at 2:30 pm.  So, we were really running around trying to get 9 entries (5 meat and 4 non-meat) turned in between 10:00 and 3:00 pm.  The turn-in booth was quite a ways away from the cooking area.  Between all the team members we however were able to juggle everything and make it all work out.  However, I must say that it was somewhat of a big challenge for everybody!
 
The Sausage and Bean categories were fairly straight-forward and somewhat simple.  The Vegetable, Potato, and Dessert categories however were a bit more complicated.  And, if you want complicated, what Bill went through to make the Dessert category was at the next  level of complexity.  But, that is what earns 180's!  Bill made a Pears Charlotte dish for the Dessert entry, AND he had to present 8 entries, not the normal 6.  It took three of us to carry everything to the judging booth for turn-in not to mention the hours and hours of preparations.   I made a double-baked Potato dish with all six little potatoes standing vertically and  looking pretty in the judgment entry tray.   

Awards ceremony
The awards ceremony started at 6:00 pm Saturday evening, or actually was supposed to (I have NEVER seen an awards ceremony start on time).  So, it finally got going by about 6:15 pm with awards being presented for the sauces and rubs categories.  Well, our team was a bit surprised, and impatiently waiting, an hour later to see the rub and sauce awards just wrapping up.  Finally, at 7:00 pm they  started on the Dessert category by first stating there were five 180's (the highest score you can be awarded) out of the 93 teams that entered.  So since they only called the top 5 in this category we wondered where we would end up overall.  We felt we had a perfect product.  Bill Wight was the true artists and creator of this entry for the event.  We all watched Bill work very hard the days before to prepare all the fixings, structures, and components to make this Dessert entry the best it could be.  Barbara (my wife) worked exclusively with Bill during most of the process to provide ideas and assistance during the build and presentation mode of this entry.  The 8 individual Dessert entries for the judges went in on eight 7 inch plates which were located on a large wooden serving tray.  It took 3 people to carry all the components the 1/8 mile over to the judging area.  Then all those components had to be assembled and turned in the judging booth.  After assembly It took two people to carry it over to the booth.  BUT, all the efforts paid off and it was well worth it as you see Bill receiving 5th place for Dessert.  A 180, the highest score available was awarded for Bill's entry.


 
2003-royal--desert--bill-wi.jpg (111231 bytes)
Bill Wight receiving, and representing, 5th place for team Coyote Road Kill's Dessert entry.  A 180 score was awarded!
 

After Dessert they started on the remaining side categories, Beans, Potatoes, Vegetables, and Sausage.  Well, the moment was finally here and we all held our breaths as the top ten recipients were called.  Oh well, we did not hear our team name called and felt a bit dejected but still knew we could have scored high but just not in the top ten.  Our final "Sides" breakdown is listed below. 

5   

th

   Dessert (180)

   98 entries

64  

th

   Beans

 148 entries

32  

nd

   Potatoes

 130 entries

 76  

th

   Vegetables

 128 entries

    

Before the final awards for the evening (the 4 meat,  3rd Overall, Reserve, and Grand) were presented I felt that we did great and had no regrets.  However, there were probably 400 other teams that felt the same way. They only call the top 10 scores for 8 categories, the top 5 scores for Dessert, and the top 3 overall.  There we were in this auditorium, with all the benches full and the over-flow folks down on the floor.  Well, as mentioned earlier, our teams anxiety level was continuing to rise as we were about 90 minutes into the presenting of the awards process for  recipients of the BBQ sauce, rubs, baskets, and all the Open "side" categories.   So, like it or not, we had an unexpected delay in our gratification, or disappointment, for the announcements of the final 4 meat categories and overall Champions of the event.  Ten awards were presented for Chicken, then ten awards were presented for Pork Ribs.  No trip to the stage yet but we still held hopes for high scores that just were not in the top ten.  It is very possible to never walk to the stage and win the entire event.  Then they started on Pork Butt, lo and behold, Coyote Road Kill was called up for 6th !!!  That moment was exciting and special.    So, overall we were all very excited and felt good about the whole event.  With the quality and quantity of teams in attendance a couple of trips to the podium can make the pain all go away.   There was definitely reason to celebrate and take our "medicine" that evening sitting beside our imitation camp fire (a propane space heater).  It is very customary for many attending teams to visit, hang-out, sit around, and socialize after the awards ceremonies.  Everybody can finally just chill out a bit, relax after the hectic schedules,  exchange our thoughts and comments on how the entire event went, and congratulate the winners and friends.   Below you can see Team Coyote Road Kill receiving the 6th place Pork Butt award on stage. 
  

2003-royal-open-coyote-pork11.jpg (44637 bytes)
Gary Balbach, Bill Wight, and Dan Cannon, 6th place for Pork Butt.  Barbara, the 4th team member was baby-sitting the doggies so could be at the awards ceremony.

  

Packing up and the trip home
We were definitely tired but very upbeat after the the last entry in the Open, Dessert, went in at 3:00 pm.   The awards ceremony was not until 6:00 pm so we had a full 3 hours to start getting the camp broke down and packed up.  In those 3 hours we literally managed to get everything broke down, packed up, and about ready to go.  What was not packed up and ready was deliberately left that way so that we could have some conveniences later that evening while we were celebrating the anticipated successes from the last 4 days of competition activities.  

Sunday morning we got up about 7:00 am, finished packing up, ate a bit of a breakfast, and were ready to hit the road by 10:00 am.  Pretty much everybody and all the teams  were gone from both lots A and B.  There was a lot of debris, rented RV's, canopies, and furniture to be picked up by whoever.  We, Gary Balbach in his diesel pusher, Bill Wight pulling my cooking trailer, and myself pulling our travel trailer finally pulled out a few minutes after 10:00 am.  We filled up with gas and hit the road for a 4 day trip home, oh joy!
 
Since we took route 40 out to the Royal we decided to take 70 back home as it went through Colorado, over the Rockies, and back down through Utah and Nevada.  I had never taken that route before and was looking forward to some new and great scenery. We did stop at a few of the scenic view lookout points.  The weather was still perfect and all went well.  The first night we stayed in Colby Missouri, the second night we hit Green Valley Utah.  We were making such good time and the weather so nice that we decided to make long mileage (500-600 versus 400-500) runs each day.  This allowed us to pull into home by 8:00 pm on the third night. Finally, home after 7 days on the road and 5 days at our cook-site.  
 
What a great trip, event, cook-off, and adventure!  BBQ is such an important part of my life that participating in the American Royal Cook-Off was a life-long dream and goal  that I and all our team members had strived and struggled to accomplish.  Now, I can sit back, relax, and chill a bit!  
 
Dan Cannon
Coyote Road Kill
www.BBQDan.com
www.BBQbyDan.com
dan@bbqdan.com

  
  
  

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