Battle of the Bones And Molalla Buckaroo State Championship BBQ
news - BBQ News 2006
Battle of the Bones
Molalla Buckaroo State Championship BBQ
July 4th Weekend, 2006

Two contests- One weekend, my kind of bbq. This was for BBQ diehards like me. One contest Friday & Saturday, pack up (after 10:00 pm) and head north 250 miles for a contest on Sunday and Monday.

I will start with the Battle of the Bones. A first time contest that was the vision of a bbqer named Scott, but knows to everyone in southern Oregon as "Smokin Man". He really should be proud of his accomplishment getting the backing. The Eden Valley Winery was a great setting. There was live music all day and night until 10:00 pm with top notch acts like Motley Blues. A lot of curious people showed up. Some showed for the music, some for the wine but most for the bbq. The power of television, since the shoes on the food channel and the History channel aired, I was amazed at how many people had seen them and recognized Kim and me. There were some funny incidents with people, sometimes they say the most ridiculous things without realizing what they said. Like "is that really you, I just saw you on TV and here you are, or "yes honey, I told you it was them". Anyway, back to the Q.

We met up with some people we cooked with in Molalla last year and met some new cookers. We even had a California team "All Hogs Go To Heaven" there. They are the team that won the big Modesto contest this year. I sure am glad they came as we had a blast with them all weekend. Steve and his son Vince did both contest as well. They are gluttons for bbq too.

The Pacific Northwest BBQ Association (PNWBA) sanctioned this contest and we had to adjust for the turn in times as they are really different than we typically do at KCBS contest. Turn in for pork and brisket are before the chicken and ribs and it was 1 hour between turn ins. It was hard to not do things in the order we are used to. Part of the reason I like to do contest in other areas is to learn to be able to adjust on demand as the situation dictates.

They had a dessert category that Kim did. They gave us pears and we had to do something with them in two hours. This was different than the way it is normally done at contest we have been to. I was amazed with what people came up with and prepared in such a short time. Kim made little tarts with nuts, amaretto and caramel sauce. We ended up with a second place.

Our pork really carried us again with a first place and we ended up 4th overall. Not bad but winning is always the goal. "Smoke a Fat One", Steve and Pauline Sanders, one of the top teams in the Pacific Northwest were the Grand Champions. It was good to get to know them better this trip as we had briefly met a couple of times before. It was hot as hell in Medford, Oregon, over 100 degrees and Steve brought by slices of cold watermelon that afternoon. Man that was perfect, the best watermelon ever. For the record, Smoke a Fat One was reserve grand last year when we won Mollala. So we were off to defend our title from last year. I think 5 teams were doing the double contest in Oregon. Molalla is the State Championship in Oregon and held in a grove of Oak trees. The perfect setting for a BBQ contest.

It was a good feeling pulling into the oak grove again. I swear this is the most perfect setting for a BBQ contest. It was good to see some of the bbq friends we made last year. One of the fairly new teams we had next to us last year "Piggy D's" was also there. They really came on strong this year winning the Iron Chef and coming in 1st in the toughest of all categories, Brisket!!! Pretty amazing. They really put a lot of effort at cooking first class bbq and it's paying off ten fold. Our pork entry was superb and the judges agreed. We ended up with 1st place. Pork has been our best item lately but we really had to work at the chicken and ribs which was our best categories last year.

Again we had a lot of recognition from the television pieces that have aired in the last couple of months. We also sold samples to the public at this contest. I really wish we could do this at all contest. The public really enjoys it and I know the cooks do too. It raised a lot of money for the charity and we made enough to cover our meat cost. It is such and win, win proposition. We were even able to sell out on the sauce we brought with us.

The Mollala Buckaroo is really a great role model on how a contest should be run. The people of Molalla are involved and they take a lot of pride in this contest and it shows. They have it all.

Oh yeah, back to the contest. We were pretty happy with everything we cooked so awards time was real nerve racking. As they count down to the Grand Champion is done I am trying to keep score and figure the odds in my head as to weather or not we have a chance at the Grand Championship. You can never tell until you hear your name. When I heard "QN4U", man that felt good. A repeat in Oregon for Grand Champion. I swear the pressure was on again. All in all this was a great bbq weekend.

The people of the PNWBA were very nice and we felt like one of the gang, not the outsider. I can't wait until next year to do the double header again. For me this is the best way to celebrate July 4th and thank God for our independence and freedom. What a country!!!