Quintessential Chatty Farker
Join Date: 07-13-06
Location: Memphis, TN
Originally Posted by SmokeInDaEye
I thought I'd add some of my personal experiences from our first competition this past weekend. I know a number of the things mentioned on this thread really helped out (zip ties were a lifesaver in the rainstorm and I made sure we had our tent sides down during turn-in times to avoid visitors with empty guts, for example).
* Organization. Create storage boxes, tool boxes, whatever, for everything you need and make sure it ends up back there so you know exactly where to reach when it's crunch time. Also makes loading and unloading much easier.
* Tall tables make a heck of a difference. We brought standard wooden folding tables and realized after getting only 1/3 of the way through trimming all of the meat that bending that far over for long periods of time does terrible things to your back. I saw a lot of PVC extensions (legs inserted into pieces of PVC) and Bad Bones had some great expandable tables from Costco.
* Again, don't try to do everything yourself. Divide responsibilities, whether assigning each person a category of specific duties. Lay it out in advance and stick to it so you're not stepping on each other.
* If there's grass, why setup your site on dirt? It looked great in the sun, next to the bathrooms and turn-in station, but the downpours turned it into a swamp. I think that's an basic rule of camping too but I was a pretty bad boy scout.
* Make sure your tent is well staked. At about 2am it lifted up and took off like a 12x12 foot kite, breaking a couple legs. Luckily we were able to bend them enough to put it back up, otherwise it would have been an even nastier night in the rain.
* When in doubt, use multiple gauges, especially on our relatively inexpensive smokers. Drilling an extra external thermometer or bringing one extra wireless thermometer would have alerted us much earlier on that the smoker temps were way too low, instead of finding out six hours before turnin and racing to catch up (unsuccessfully on the brisket, unfortunately).
* Above all else, don't take it too seriously, at least out of the gate. I almost drove myself nuts after a bad showing instead of focusing on what did work, what we had overcome, and what we accomplished. One great showing (fifth in grilling on Sat) and one bad showing (37th on Sun) equals one average overall showing with a ton of great lessons, new friends and memories.
Good advice, younger me. We had a similar rainstorm last weekend, using the same rebuilt canopy which didn't blow away due to some serious weight from five gallon water jugs, but did partially collapse.
Funny thing is, aside from the wet, it didn't affect us at all. We are so much better organized thanks to my advice above and the countless advice of the great folks here. In the end, though, it just takes patience, practice, and the ability to accept and learn from defeat every so often.
Gen II Komodo Kamado, Pit Barrel Cooker, 3x 18.5" WSMs, 22.5" WSM, modified 18.5" Weber Kettle, 22.5" Weber Kettle circa 1960ish, Weber One Touch Platinum, copper Weber Smokey Joe, La Caja China, Bubba Keg, Bodom Picnic Grill, Weber Genesis