Monday, April 26, 2010

Pork in the Park 4/16-4/17

A BBQ contest is casual.....or is it?

Casual Encounters
Wanted: Male or female for occasional weekend companionship. Prefer beer and tequila drinker, cigar smoker a plus. Person must be willing to work long hours for little or no pay and go two days without a shower. The activity requires the participant to be on their feet for many hours and get very little sleep. Svelte physical condition not required. Good dishwashing skills move you to the front of the line. Strong back, tough skin and sharp tongue are required. Occasionally, one may be required to intervene and or participate in verbal squabbling and or altercations. If you enjoy hanging out in a smoke filled room until your cloths reek and your legs and back ache, this is the relationship for you. Also, it would be preferred if you disliked sunsets, sunrises, puppies, salads, light beer, sleeping in, lazy weekend mornings, pillow talk and long walks on the beach. Attach resume (including references) and apply as soon as possible. Time is of the essence.

It was late Tuesday evening before our season opener at Salisbury, the Pork in the Park BBQ Festival. Teamate Erich had something come up and would be unable to attend. I had recently had some success with a trailer purchase on Craig’s List, the on-line classified site and thought, “what the hell, why not?” I cobbled up the above want add and posted in the personals section on Maryland’s Craig’s List. The categories were a little confusing, men seeking woman, woman seeking men, men seeking men, strictly platonic, etc. I couldn’t find one that advertised BBQ team seeking weekend help. So after looking them all over I decided on “casual encounters”. After all, how much more casual could you get than a BBQ contest?

Surely there would be a huge bunch of folks out there that would want to casually participate and or hang out with an established BBQ team for the weekend, even it meant doing so was at the expense of loosing a nights sleep. I posted the add and waited. I checked my email box every hour on the hour for the first day or so and heard not a peep. Imagine my excitement when Thursday morning came and I saw a response to my add, finally, I thought.

My excitement was short lived however when I read over the response and saw the photograph that the person had sent along with the question, “did I mind if he wore a mask and brought a friend or two?” I didn’t know you were allowed to send images like that on the internet. It was only after reading this note that I ventured into the ‘casual encounters’ section of Craig’s List and saw for myself what the words ‘casual encounters’ meant to other folks. If this is what folks around town are doing for casual entertainment, I must be from the wrong planet! What ever happened to sitting around drinking a beer and watching the ball game on the tube. BBQ enthusiasts these were not. I think this must be what is referred to as ‘the too much information age’. Perhaps I should have posted on one of the BBQ forums that I frequent instead of chancing this increasingly poplar web based classified site. It was too late to repost anywhere else, we’d have to wing it a man down, again.

For those that don’t remember, the last two contests for the 2009 season we were a man down. While it is certainly a doable deal, it is much easier on everyone when we are operating on all cylinders. Oh well, I much rather operate a man down than invite Percival Sweetwater and his roving band of who knows whats along for the weekend, even if he DID wear a mask!

We arrived on site, got set up and began the prep work. With two ancillary categories on Friday night, we were very busy getting everything ready for the two day event. I was also selling my new book at a contest for the first time. It was very nice having folks stop by that had read the book saying how much they enjoyed the contents. I also enjoyed chatting with some of the folks that approached about buying a book.

One such fellow I spoke with on Friday night introduced his self and explained how he had driven up from Virginia Beach to visit the contest and see what all the fuss was about. Considering starting his own team, he said he really enjoyed wandering around and talking with some of the many cooks that were present. He added that he was staying in a nearby hotel and was planning on attending the event the next day as well. Eddy Cloud was his name and I invited Eddy to stop by the next day to watch the final prep and the building of the turn-in boxes. For my money, this is the most exciting part of the BBQ contest and the best part for someone to see if they have never had the pleasure. That is, of course, if the person is interested in BBQ.

The next day, Eddy showed up, hung up his hat and after a few introductions jumped in like he had been on the team all along. He stayed and helped with the turn-in boxes, clean-up and packing, even pitching in with a ton of dishwashing duties. We learned a lot about Eddy in our short time together. But there was one thing that I already knew; there is something about the slow rolling sweet blue smoke that brings out some of the nicest people you’d ever want to meet. Here was a guy that I had just met, from out of town, on a weekend, working his butt off to help us try and do well in a contest. I have said it before, and I’ll say it again, BBQ folks are good people I tell you. Thanks Eddy.

Oh yea, the contest. Well, we finished 21st out of a 132 team field. We received one call to the stage for 7th place in ribs. Our chicken was 47th, pork 45th, and brisket 29th. We certainly wished we had done better, maybe next time out. For now, I gotta figure out how to REMOVE a want add from the now famous Craig’s List, you oughta see some of the responses that have come in, whew, and they call this stuff casual???? Never again!

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