n' at the Autry, Los Angeles (Griffith Park) California, 13-14-April-2007
By Dan Cannon, Team BBQbyDan,
This year was even better than last year! We were fortunate enough to
have scored 4th place overall out of 32 teams !!! Not quite the same as Reserve Grand Champion
(2nd place) like last year but we were happy. The Autry venue,
facilitation, and turnout, was better than ever. Upon arrival
everything was in perfect order. Our reserved cooking spot and
team parking (from last year) was promptly made available for quick and
easy access. So, team arrival, setup, and trailer layout, was
accomplished in a quick and easy manner.
I arrived just prior to noon and many teams appeared to be set up already. Several teams had arrived
early to meet Gayle Anderson and her team from KTLA (channel 5) Morning
news. They had 3 segments starting around 08:00 till 10:00 on
local broadcast on TV. The interviewed teams prepared Butt, Brisket, and other items for the TV
crew to view, sample, and comment on.
been very windy the day before (Thursday) but that pretty much tapered
off just after noon Friday. Both Friday and Saturday turned out to be
a beautiful warm day. Rick and I had a chance to visit other BBQ teams
and relax a bit before the late afternoon rigors of the meat preparation and Southwest "Anything But" turn-in later
MET BY THE PRESS
Just after noon we were met by a journalist (Eva Buskas) and a
photographer (Maja Flink) working for a Swedish newspaper called Aftonbladet
Eva, who had contacted me a month earlier via email, explained that BBQ has become very popular in Sweden in recent
years and they were going to do a magazine type insert for the Aftonbladet.
They were looking to do a story on the American way of BBQ'ing which
differs a bit from the Swedish way. Eva wanted to follow
one of the BBQ teams during the contest. Since our team was the Reserve
Champion last year they felt it would be fun and exciting to do the
article about our team. We happily agreed. To make the
introductions easier and more comfortable for all we arranged to meet at
my place in Agua Dulce California a few weeks prior to the event.
All the team members (Barbara, myself, Rick, Karen, & Jessica) spent the
afternoon chit-chatting with Eva and Maja about BBQ, looking at and
understanding my BBQ equipment, and eating BBQ
meats and side dishes prepared the way we do it. I think it was a great
afternoon and educational for all. We even sent the left-over's back
with them to their local residence (I think they liked the BBQ beans as
much as the meats). Of course the expectation of such an
agreement is we do well at the upcoming event! So, everybody keeps
their fingers crossed (or pressed together) that at least the chosen and
scrutinized team (us) will hopefully provide a respectable showing (like
even make it to the presentation stage at least once !!!). I gave
the Swedish news crew a heads-up that I / we would do our best for a
good showing but no guarantees. Fortunately, not too far from end
of the award presentations (whew) we got called for a 2nd place award for Pork
Butt, Maja got at
least one good picture (she gave me a big smile and thumbs up), and the heat was
off. The team could all relax. Anyway, it was a great
experience and their participation and involvement made it much more
special and enjoyable for everybody on the team.
FRIDAY TURN-IN'S AND PREP
Rick and Karen Streiff (BBQbyDan team members) arrived
about noon as well and setup their camper adjacent to our cooking site. They
to get to the business of preparing and assembling the “Southwest Anything Butt”
entry for the evening. It was King Crab Enchiladas with Margaritas
on the side (pictured below). There was lots of chopping of peppers and cheese
grating to obtain the required indigenous Southwest Mexican flair and
taste. The Dessert entry was scheduled for the the next day,
Saturday at 02:00 pm. Arlie said he was doing a separate Dessert
dish so that the Southwest entry would be geared more towards a
meat or dinner entry versus a Southwest dessert. And, by having
the Dessert entry the next day the taste buds of the judges would not be
impacted by the Friday evening Southwest turn-ins.
Rick and I had lots of pork ribs, beef briskets, pork
butts, and chicken to trim, season, and prepare for quick entry into the
pit later that evening and the next morning. We had our work cut out
This was the fourth BBQ Contest that Arlie Bragg has
organized that I have attended and they are always very nicely planned
out, well organized, and "Team-Friendly" in their approach and attitude.
Arlie is always at the venue location bright and early (07:00 am) on
opening day providing easy and organized entry, access, and setup.
Vehicle and space requirements are always nicely provided for making it
easy to arrive and get setup. Electrical, water, ice, and required facilities
are always abundantly available. All the teams were provided water
and ice both Friday and Saturday. It is nice to be catered to.
SATURDAY AT THE AUTRY
Saturday was a beautiful day (no wind as many had
predicted), many spectators, and much going on. Unlike any other BBQ
Contest I have seen in California over the last 10 years this event has
been well publicized through the media (KTLA
morning news, Gayle Anderson, channel 5). That brought a lot of
curious folks that might not have known anything was happening. Since the advent of BBQ Contests presented on the Food Network,
the print media, and
local television coverage, the participating public has become much more
aware of BBQ Cook-Offs and activities. Many passing folks told us that there were
long lines of cars waiting to enter and exit the event. Not to
mention long lines for the BBQ vendors feeding the public. Hopefully everybody was
rewarded and satiated in the end.
Finally turn-in time arrived and we did skillfully what
we have done so many times before. Perfectly (hopefully) prepared our
greens, did our best to pick the best pieces of meat or chicken for
final turn-in, and got everything to the judges building by the specified
turn-in time. All turn-in's were complete by 02:00 pm.
Awards presentation commenced at 04:15 pm.
BBQ at the Autry organizers thanked all the sponsors and attendees for their attendance.
- Sug's Shack,
The great BBQ Team of Charles Myles & crew, took the “Grand Champion”
- Dueling Bubba's, Long-time competitors Don Grissom & Derek Mueler,
took "Reserve Champion"
- QN4U, Many-Grand-Champ-Team, Brent & Kim Walton, took "3rd Place Overall"
The venue maxed
and sold out with 32 participating paid BBQ teams by December 2006.
BBQbyDan, was pleasantly surprised to be called to the stage for
2nd in Pork Butt, and was fortunate enough to capture
4th Place Overall for
the "BBQ'n at the Autry" 2007 State BBQ contest.
are posted above or at:
Our team was very excited and honored to be selected by
the judges out of so many (32 participating) long-time and
experienced award winning teams. A moment like that can never be taken
for granted or expected.
had fully packed up our camp-site and equipment for departure prior to
the awards ceremony at 04:15 pm Saturday. But I was going to
spend the night at the event site to celebrate our great success with
Team QN4U and whoever else decided to stay as well. As it turned out we had a
nice relaxing evening with BBQ Team QN4U, the Pit Stop who stayed for a
while, Pat Brandon the Photographer (707-425-4268), and some team
sponsors who hung out a bit into the evening. Kim Walton
brought in some pizzas and we got to have a nice non-meat (traditional
after a BBQ contest) dinner.
Kim and I were the last to finally call it an evening about midnight.
Then, everybody woke up to the pitter-patter of rain about 04:00 am.
I, Brent Walton, and Pat got up to survey the surroundings and unpacked
equipment for its moisture content. Brent and Pat started packing his
equipment. I chose to say my good-by's and hit the road. I
was home, warm, dry, and in bed before 07:00 am.
Part of the attraction and enjoyment of these events is the
ability to sit down after an event, relax around a campfire or heater,
and chit-chat with the other teams. We discuss how the contest went,
what we did wrong or right, and finally to relish and appreciate the
awards we may, or may not, have obtained. The participating BBQ
teams through the years have come to know each other very well, are good
friends, and feel like family while on the circuit. The evening after a contest is
looked forward to as much as the contest itself. At
contests, if allowed, many teams and participants will stay the night after the event, stay up late visiting
with good friends, and relax after a weekend of schedules and stress.
Thanks again to Arlie and all the sponsors, volunteers, participants,
and BBQ teams
that make these events so special.