Smoke on The Water: Pine Bluff, Arkansas

Last weekend our competition schedule took us 3 hours from home to Smoke on the Water in Pine Bluff, Arkansas.  Mr. Ronnie Cates is the host of this contest and he is one of the premier bbq organizers in the country.  His events always draw top competition because of his hard work, payouts, and team friendly surroundings.

Homemade Wine from Smoke on the Water BBQ Contest

The Smoke on the Water event is considered the premier BBQ contest in the state of Arkansas.  It has a guaranteed purse of $15,000 and the grand champion’s take is one of the largest in on the competition circuit.  It also pays out through the top 5 spots in each KCBS category and through top ten overall, so everyone has a shot at taking some money home.

The contest was held at Regional Park on the banks of the Arkansas River.  The view was great from every spot, and if it wasn’t for the weather it would have been the perfect setting.  I overheard Ron say that he can’t hold a BBQ contest without it raining “I could have a contest in Ethiopia and stop the draught!”, but we didn’t let a little rain spoil our fun.

On Friday night the teams and judges were treated with a Tex-Mex smorgasbord of deliciousness.  BBQ’rs Delight and Budweiser sponsored the dinner and judges Tom and Debbie Bergschicker prepared some amazing dishes.  Tom was kind enough to demonstrate his Yoder cookers, and I was amazed at how efficient these machines are.  Not only can you go slow and low for bbq, but these bad boys can crank up to 600 degrees which opens up all sorts of possibilities for outdoor cooking.

After getting our fill of dinner and of course a few Bud Lights, we were ready to concentrate on the contest.  Our plans went pretty much as scheduled except for the ribs.  For this contest we were trying a new St. Lois cut spare rib and we weren’t happy with the result.

The ribs were decent, but we knew they were lacking before turn-in.  The tenderness just wasn’t right.  The initial bite came off perfect but once the meat hit your mouth, it had a tough feel.  These ribs were a little on the thin side, and I like my rib to have some meat on the bones. Our scores in ribs reflected our premonition  29th place.  It cost us in major way, but in the BBQ game you’re always learning.

The other categories fared much better.  Chicken was 7th, Pork 12th, and Brisket was our highest scoring category of 4th place.  Overall we finished 8th which is not bad in that field.  Congratulations go out to Caveman Cuisine for Grand and Que’n, Stew’n, & Brew’n for Reserve.  Also want to say job well done to Eric from Fire Dancer BBQ.  He brought home another top 3 finish along with a first place brisket.  Everybody better look out for him!

We have a busy two weeks ahead of us now in order to be prepared for the American Royal.  I’ll be updating our adventure, so stay tuned.

Malcom Reed
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