American Royal 2004
news - BBQ News 2004
American Royal Complex
Kansas City, MO


Family Fun"This will be unbelievable."

This was like the "Night before Christmas" when I was a kid. We were so excited after we realized we had the opportunity to be in the Invitational at the American Royal in Kansas City, MO in October.

This was August and I knew we had the daunting task to come up with the money and time off of work from their real jobs everyone needed to go. But I figured this might be the only chance I ever get to do this. So damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead.

I started making the calls. First a call to my brother Kent to see if he was up for a road trip. He said "hell yes", then to rent a motor home in Kansas City. I knew this was going to be fun. No one makes me laugh more than my brother. We always have a great time together and this was something we have not done before. I don't count those family vacations driving back east in the back of a camper my dad had built on the back of his truck to put us kids in. I think he did that so he would not have to listen to us fight and annoy each other for the 3-4 day drive to grandmas. Our dad only stopped when he needed to get gas, period. If you had to go to the bathroom at any other time, well let's just say that your next few hours were going to be miserable. I digressed for a minute. OK let's get back to back to Kansas.

At the EventI figured this was going to be 8-10 days to drive there and back. We would do the invitational on Friday, the Open on Saturday and do the vending Saturday night for the blues concert. Sunday we would pack up and head home.

As we were putting this whole thing together it ended up being a family reunion in Kansas City, MO with Kim's mother and Marshall, my dad and Margaret, Kim's sister Sandy, my daughter Janelle and of coarse Kent. As we talked to people, everyone wanted to be there and they all came. It was really great and was a real blessing because we all ended up working our butts off for the vending Saturday night as we were the only vendor. Everyone pitched in and we got it done, thoroughly exhausted by the end of the night.

Kent and I started out on Sunday to for the holy land of bbq. I wanted and tried to stop at every wacky roadside attraction we could find. Our first stop was in Bakersfield, CA at the crystal Palace, and the home of Buck Owens. A couple of "road cokes" and on to Barstow to meet up with Todd Eves of Out of this World BBQ. We were going to caravan with Todd and others. We decided to head up to Laughlin, NV for the night. Early the next morning we drove hard to get to Santa Rosa, NM, for the second night. Then on to Kansas the next day. We stopped at an abandoned gas station, pulled out the Weber and had a roadside bbq. That was way cool. The next morning we arrived at the American Royal. I was excited to get set up and check out all of the teams coming in.

Kim and 3rd PlaceEverything went smooth as we had planned. All of the family showed up on Thursday. We all had dinner together at the American Royal kick off dinner. It was rewarding to be able to sit down together and have such a great time. As I have said before "the power of bbq Ðit brings people together. We all have certain things we like about bbq or thoughts on how it should be done or cooked but I think everyone would agree, "Bbq is best when it is shared and is a great way to bring family and friends together" Everyone that enjoys bbq at all has to experience the American Royal in Kansas City. It is just an amazing gathering, like a giant family reunion.

The "dark side". I can't even begin to explain this. It reminds me of the scenes from the movie, Escape from New York. I think the only difference is every one is so happy. Real happy, so happy, people are falling over. The fire, smoke, lights, music intersecting with tens of thousands of bbq afficianados. You just have to see it, taste it, and smell it.

Kim and 3rd PlaceKim had made a great vegetable she had come up with and called to the stage at the awards ceremony. It was a thrill to hear "QN4U" 3rd place announced at the American Royal among the best teams in the country. I was very proud of her for sure. Going home from the Royal with a ribbon was a huge accomplishment. We did pretty well over all ending up 65th. Although I do expect to come back here and win someday.

What I remember most about 2004 American Royal was the closeness we all seemed to have that weekend. Everyone was having the time of their lives. Spending time with my brother, rolling into Texas at sunrise with Stevie Ray Vaughn blasting on the radio. I remember thinking "man life is good, how perfect is this?" Our parents showing up and hanging out (I hope at their age I can just show up) and working their tails off. Kim's sister Sandy. If ever a person could rally a crowd, she's the one. She was entertainer and motivator. No one wanted to leave our booth. They bought food and hung out with us. My daughter Janelle was here as well as Todd Eves and Dan Cannon. They all helped out and hung out.

It was like a BBQ dream for me. It was as much fun as I ever could imagine

Sunday we slowly packed up and decided to go to Strouds for lunch and have the best pan fried chicken in the country and I believe it was. We took Sandy to the airport and Kim to the hotel as her flight was Monday morning. Kent and I hit the road Monday with Waylon Jennings blaring on the radio and headed back to reality in California.