Friday, November 30, 2012

A Taste of Carolina Tells What KCBS Competitors Want

BBQ Grill North Carolina
Howard's got one helluva smoker!

More on Shelby, North Carolina Hog Happnin'

So, where were we? I was telling you about my trip to Shelby, North Carolina to do my Organizer Training for the Kansas City Barbeque Society portion (for my Hogging Up Festival) . I learned from Jerry and Joyce Gardner all the ins and outs of having a great contest and festival.....if you didn't read Part One (Grand Champion), or Part Two (Alston Bridges), better do so now.  The other reason I was there was to really talk to the competitors and find out what they are looking for.

barbecue guy
Howard Wooten: One of the nicest guys on the BBQ circuit you'll ever meet. He's from Alexis, NC.

At Taste of Carolina, Howard Wooten

I spent a lot of time talking to Howard Wooten, from Alexis, North Carolina.  He is a regular at Hog Happnin' and explained a lot to me.  Lucky for him, this annual event is right down the street from his home, and knows most guys who are there.  The circuit is tight - they all know one another from this contest or that contest.

First off, I truly didn't realize how much money professional barbecue guys may spend going to a contest.  There may be an investment of $1000.00 easy wrapped in attending one event!  Howard explained, from the time they submit their applications to a contest, have to then buy the meat in four categories, ice, charcoal, supplies, and then factor in the high price of gas and tolls--it can get costly.

So I learned electric, space and water are requirements are a must for them.  If you have a ton of space, don't fret if they need a few extra feet.  Oh, and the goodie bags? Howard doesn't want another pen from a realtor he won't use. Why not give paper towels and aluminum foil, something he can use?

barbecue guy Howard Wooten
I'm watching carefully as Howard prepares his chicken. He is seasoning and getting ready to put it in the smoker.

For Howard, his huge smoker is set up on a trailer custom made to accommodate him and his right hand man Larry when they are competing. Complete set up with sinks, prep area, paper towels and chairs, this is where they do their thing. This of course didn't happen over night. Howard was originally on another team, then branched off on his own. Once he obtained the smoker he wanted, it took him a crane to get it on the trailer. (The trailer is actually build around the smoker.)

Now, chances of winning a competition like this are slim when you figure 60 to 80 competitors are usually in this contest. So why does he do it? 

The Family of the Kansas City Barbeque Socity

Howard says it's not about the money. It's a true love of barbecue, and networking with other barbecue guys, which some he considers like a second family.  (We heard that same story from everyone we asked...)  Howard's kids are all grown up and not too close by, so it's something he does and enjoys.   We get that - but how is there so much love in the KCBS? 

North Vs South Doesn't Really Matter, It's All One Big Family

This guy Charles Fretwell is from Boiling Springs, South Carolina, but welcomed to North Carolina just as well.

Howard doesn't mind all the local competitors, and says that he knows most of the out of state competitors, too as they compete together in contests , like B.S. Pitmeisters, (Charles Fretwell) from Boiling Springs, SC.  (Ironically, some of B.S. Pitmeister's best wins were in North Carolina, not South Carolina....) go figure.  

For Howard, it's not about where you are from or your zip code. It's a hobby (or sport) that everyone can enjoy doing. Howard has one golden rule, you have to help your neighbor if they need it, (need a thermometer, or ran out of ice,..) because one day you may need something too.  Now if you ask him an hour before turn in time and he may just give you a different answer, as tensions are high right before game time.
bbq guys
Charles Fretwell (BS Pitmeisters) was doing everything on his own in Shelby, from cooking to turning it in!
The only downfall? Howard explains that sometimes it's hard to understand why you did so bad at one contest, when you placed so well at another.  Even more confusing to competitors overall is when they see how the scores may appear high on your final sheet, but you still were not one of the top ten.  He says, it's all part of the challenge called BBQ Competitions, and you just regroup for your next competition.
barbecue award

How long will Howard do this?  As long as he wants to have good, clean fun.  Well, maybe not clean when you are covered in barbecue sauce.........but still......some of us would love to do that all weekend.   Special Thanks to Howard Wooten for his time and expertise.  More soon...

Anyone from the West Coast? 

Take advantage of this awesome opportunity:
We found an amazing price this week on our favorite CHOBANI Greek Yogurt. At only 10 for $10 at my local Safeway Store---you can check out the price and then check out how to “Just add Good” to your many recipes at  

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