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North to Alaska July 2006
news - BBQ News 2006
North to Alaska
July 2006

One of the great things about bbq for me is that I never know where it leads to or where I get to go. When I first heard that there was a bbq contest in Alaska I thought that would be a hoot. Go to Alaska, the final frontier, bbq and see some sights? Wow! Well, as fate seems to have it, my brother called me and said "Bro, I'm going to be 50, let's do something". I asked him, "What do you want to do, old man?" He said, "Go fishing—in Alaska." Man you could hear the gears in my head drop in. Huh? Fishing and bbq in Alaska? Is this possible? "Funny you should say that, Kent. Yhere is a bbq contest in Alaska a couple of days before your birthday. Are you up for a little bbq and fishing?" I told him I would check things out and call him back in a few days.

The next day I contacted Harold Groetsema of Big Daddy's BBQ in Fairbanks Alaska where the contest was to be held to get some information and to see if this contest was for real. Harold is the King of BBQ in Alaska, certified and deserved. (More on that later) Well Harold could not have been more helpful to make this trip happen. I had met him in Lynchburg, TN at the Jack Daniels cook off last year.

After a few back and forth conversations with everyone, things come together. We are going to Alaska, this is exciting!

Packing for the trip was a little tricky. I needed to take my sauces and spices and other personal items and figured to buy everything else we needed. Even with being careful with what I was taking, I could barely lift my luggage.

Just flying into Alaska was an adventure with its amazing views of the glaciers, mountains, ocean, including Mt McKinley, the tallest mountain in the United States. Well, we arrived with our entire luggage intact. That was a good omen. Harold and his brother Dale of Cider House BBQ fame picked us up at the airport and we headed for Harold's. He had a trailer set up for us to stay in and it was perfect. We dropped everything off and headed for Big Daddy's BBQ Restaurant. This is Harold's place. The northernmost southern barbeque. This was a fantastic place, everything a bbq restaurant should be. The food, and I had a ton of it was really good. Harold has built a great reputation in Alaska for his bbq and now I see why.

In addition to his restaurant he also has a new project called A Taste of Chicago, a concession stand that serves as its main attraction, "Chicago style hot dogs". Man, these are really done right and the people line up for them. He is also working on a permanent drive thru. This is part of the reason he is the BBQ King in Alaska.

In addition to his restaurant he also has a new project called A Taste of Chicago, a concession stand that serves as its main attraction, "Chicago style hot dogs". Man, these are really done right and the people line up for them. He is also working on a permanent drive thru. This is part of the reason he is the BBQ King in Alaska.

Kent and I took in some sightseeing around Fairbanks the next day with Dale. and started getting ready for the contest. We were going to cook on 2 WSM's and a Weber grill that we purchased in Alaska. It has been a while since I cooked a contest on WSM's so I was a little out of my element. They are great cookers and win contest all of the time so I was not at a disadvantage at all.

We arrived in Alaska a couple of days after they had finished filming an episode of Extreme House Makeover. Harold was the caterer on this event which had Fairbanks all a buzz. They do not get a lot of TV shows turn up there. We went by the house; it was huge with a football field with real goal post in the backyard.

We went gold panning and got some gold! We went to North Pole, Alaska. That's where Santa lives. We also took a paddle boat up the Chena River and the Tanana River. That was really interesting. Alaska is huge and you really need to see it to understand the beauty. One of the most impressive sights to me was the pipeline. To hear and read about the amazing stories of its construction and engineering challenges is amazing.

In Alaska the story goes that if you want to be an Alaskan there are three things that you have to do. Well I'm 2/3 Alaskan I figure because I crossed the Artic Circle and pissed in the Yukon River but failed to wrestle a grizzly bear. Maybe next time!!

Between Sam's Club and Fred Meyer we were able to purchase all of our goods needed to compete at this contest. I believe there were 15 teams competing for this year's title of Alaska State BBQ Champion. It was different cooking at this contest with the sun staying up and the WSM's. They also had different turn in times so I really had to think out everything and it was a lot of work. I guess I am a little spoiled with my rotisserie and routine. We cooked at Pioneer Park where they had a lot going on. The bbq drew a lot of people so some of the teams were vending. We gave out samples when we finished competing. The contest had a lot of locals involved plus the Governor of Alaska and members of his staff. How cool is that to get to meet the Governor of Alaska. Not bad for a couple of tourist.



 
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