The other day I was reading a nice blog from my friend Wilfred “Fred” Reinke, also know as Oshawa Ogre. In his blog he was talking about the relations and friends that BBQ has created for him. That made me stop and think for a minute, how many friends, relationships, and dare I say families, have started over a good plate of BBQ?
Fred referred to the BBQ community as, “a very close knit community. It is amazing to me that friendships can develop with people that are 1000?s of miles away but yet it feels like we are neighbors.” I am finding that to be true as well, yes I know there are the differences amongst folks anywhere you go, but for the most part, about 98% of the time, I have found BBQ people to be good honest folks, and are always out for a good time!!!
I am very new to the BBQ community in comparison to may teams out there that have years of experience and knowledge in the world of BBQ, and I am sure they have seen many teams come and go over the years. It is said that if a team can make it through the second year of competitions, that they will have longevity in this game. Many teams get started and have the momentum behind them the first year, everyone is all excited and happy to just be out there in the field. If they are luck they get to take home a couple of awards, and some bragging rights. Then the second year sets in, and the competition scene may start to become routine, and they begin to realize, “Hey this is a big commitment, not to mention, a lot of work!!!” Next thing you know there is a for sale sign on their smoker in the front yard. From what I can see, many of the teams that have been around for a while have a few things in common, they all can cook great BBQ, they all love winning and they all enjoy socializing with other teams, and people interested in BBQ on all levels. To them this is not only great way to satisfy that need for competition, but it is also a social event. Anyone who wants to enter this arena is welcomed with a smile and a hand shake. Folks will get involved with competition BBQ in many different ways, be it through a friend who is already on a team, just showing up at an event and getting interested that way, for me, I guess it was mostly on-line. I started making “friends” on Facebook, and Twitter, mostly. I was not getting much of a challenge at my “real job”, oh, who am I kidding, a monkey could replace me at work, and no one would be the wiser. I needed some type of release from the mundane everyday routine, but how to get started? To me, getting out there and connecting with people I do not know, is not something that comes naturally for me, I’m not real relaxed around new people, not what you would call a real smooth talker, but on-line it seemed to come to me much easier, I am no good on the phone, and in person, well you get the idea. On-line is a good ice breaker, for me.
Many teams are using on-line networks to not only promote their teams, but to also make connections and learn new techniques. For me really the first person who I connected with was Chad Ward from Whiskey Bent BBQ, he has been instrumental in me getting involved with competition BBQ. This is an all around great team, please visit their web-site at www.WhiskeyBentBBQ.net to learn more about their team.
Another person I met on line and have formed a friendship with is Shawn Reagan from Boca BBQ. Shawn and I have cooked together a couple of times now, and I have learned a lot from him. Shawn came out and helped us at the 2011 Lakeland, FL Pigfest, he just jumped right in and help out. Great guy!!!
We have also had great fun meeting folks like Tim from Tiki Time BBQ, the guys from Beachneck BBQ and of course the whole crew from Team Unknown BBQ.
The commendatory amongst the teams is just incredible. At the award ceremonies you are always hoping to hear your name called, but you also find yourself cheering loudest when a team, that has friends on it, get to make the walk up to the stage. Yes, it is a competition, but everyone is supportive of all teams competing, it really makes for a good time for all, win or lose. I see much of the same type of things happening on-line as well, we have connected with folks across the country, from FL JM from www.celebritygrillshow.com all the way to CA Tim from www.greenleafbbq.com. up north to Tom with www.BigButzBBQSauce.net in Wisconsin, to deep in the heart of TX with Chad with 3CS BBQ CO. out to the heartland of Nebraska Michael at www.bandiolaspice.com and Bert in CO. with www.FruitaWoodChunks.com, and of course Huck’s Hut, but you already knew that. Then there are the international friends, Fred of course, you can become his Facebook friend under Wilfred Reinke, and Danielle or better known as Diva Q, both from Canada and very nice people. Even getting support from across the pond, from Hanneke in the Netherlands you can find her great blog at www.thedutchesscooks.com. This is just a very short list of some great people within the on-line BBQ world, being active and enjoying time with these people and others can become part of your regular live. It has become a great way to keep in touch and share information. Soon you get to know these folks with whom you regularly speak with and start having other relations with them, outside of BBQ. One is having an operation, another has issues with their kids, another has a sick relative, and you truly want to be there for support.
I have also been luck enough to meet Lea Richards from Pig of the Month. She and her great service provide some really good BBQ and sauces via on-line ordering. They believe that we can help each other out, and has decided to be our first team sponsor. This is very important to any BBQ team, sponsors are not only a great way to get our name and the name of our sponsor out to the public, but it helps to make competition BBQ stronger as a whole. I will always do everything possible to help out any organization that decides to sponsor my team, and I know that this is just the beginning of a great long relationship between Hogs Gone Wild BBQ & Pig of the Month. Please visit Lea’s GREAT web-site, and take atvantage of some of their awesome products. I know what some folks will say, BBQ through the mail? Come on, how good could that be, well I’ll tell you, I have eaten a lot of BBQ as a judge, and her pork was right up there with some of the best I have ever had!!! ( and that’s the truth).
When the line between life, family & friends begins to blur, you have a true since of where this journey, we are all on, has taken you, and there will be peace. I’m not saying that BBQ will become the center of the universe or anything like that, but I think it has become an avenue, at lease for me, to great times with great people. BBQ folks of the true salt of the earth people, and I hope everyone out there will go the a BBQ festival in their town, or even better enter a BBQ competition. Take that leap, it would hurt, trust me there are plenty of good people to help you get back up and brush off, and start again!!! I feel like I have found were I belong, amongst loved one’s and close friends, working at a passion that is known simply as BBQ.