This past weekend was our first contest of the year. It was the Worlds Largest Rattlesnake Round-Up and BBQ Cook-Off held in Sweetwater, TX. One of my team members and I headed out Thursday after work and made the drive over to San Angelo to pick up an RV. This contest was special because several of my friends from Houston came down as well as some of my friends from Midland. We arrived in San Angelo at about 8:00, picked up the RV and were off to Sweetwater. We pulled into Sweetwater at about 11:30 PM and went to McDonalds for a late night snack. To our surprise there were about 30 little kids eating there and were having a birthday party for one of their friends. We went over to Walmart and did some last minute shopping and pulled into Newman Park by the Coliseum around 12:30 AM. It had rained all day and the entrance into the park was basically undriveable even with a 4x4. We parked the RV by the colisuem and settled in for the night. The next day we found a spot in the park, made it in and set up camp. We wound up having to park the RV outside of the park right by the edge and I had to bring the cooker inside the park by the RV. All morning we watched people coming in and getting stuck. It was almost like watching a Tractor Pull with obstacles. This year they added an award for the guy who pulled out the most people.
Our friends began to arrive Friday after lunch. By the time they had showed up water had began to overtake our campsite so we had to buy sandbags and a broom to push it out off of the grass. It rained most all of Friday and never got over 36 degrees. Saturday it drizzled most of the morning and finally cleared up about the time judging took place. Patty and the kids drove up on Saturday morning and went over to the coliseum to see all of the Rattlesnake demonstrations. There were about 97 teams entered up this year and the competition was tough. Overall it was a great time with the exception of the weather. The weather was about as bad as you can expect but we had a lot of fun. The judging at this contest is different than most and is something I do not agree with. The judges are served as much free alcohol as possible and the local radio station advertises live from the cook-off all the turn in times and encourages listeners to come out and judge. You basically have judges that come in off the street or from cooking teams and get drunk and walk around after the judging. This year we did not make the top 10. If you don't make the top 10 you really don't know where you wound up in the contest. You could have been 11th or 97th and not really know where you stood. Last year we placed 8th in Chicken out of about 137 teams. We were not as successful this year. Our Chicken did not hit. We did a practice run Friday and it turned out just like I wanted but Saturday it overcooked. The ribs had a little to much pepper and did not turn the color they usually do but they tasted wonderful. I was very dissapointed to not have made it in Brisket. I had numerous compliments on my brisket and it turned out exceptionally well. We had another team that came up who had tried it and said they were very surprised it didn't hit. I guess you cant win them all but you might as well have fun while you try.