Monday, August 22, 2011

Saratoga Springs

As soon as I pulled out of the Harpoon parking lot I began thinking about what to do next. I knew there was a Friday-Saturday contest five days later in Saratoga Springs, with a relatively small field and $12,000 in prize money. Decided, why not make the drive up there and throw a dart at the dartboard? Figured that even on a bad day we could win enough of the prize money to cover fuel costs. Unfortunately, all we won was gas money.

Since my work days off are Friday-Saturday, didn't have to worry about getting time off, which is helpful. I can get Sundays off but don't like to dump that on my bosses on short notice.

Got to the site, which was a harness racing track and casino. Looked like a nice place, although I didn't explore at all.

As soon as I got the trailer unpacked and the basic set up done, the skies opened up. Naturally. Fortunately it poured for 15 minutes and and was great the rest of the two days.

The contest site itself was great. It was the first time I have ever met the organizer Arlie Bragg, but I knew going in that he runs some serious events. I wish more organizers had come up to see how he runs things, as the guy clearly knows how to take care of the teams. There was awesome power, as my air conditioner was on from the moment we arrived until I pulled out to leave and we had no problems. He also built a fenced in area with a full restaurant dish washing station, a commercial ice cooler filled with bags and bags of ice, and ash dump exclusively for the teams. As contest setups went this guy is first class.

Our site.

We were set up with Meat@Slims next to us and Sean Keever and Big Guns BBQ behind us. Couldn't have asked for better neighbors.

Sheila had to work all weekend and did not make the trip, but we made some basic garnish boxes and I brought them to the site, where they were transferred to the actual boxes. This was our first time trying this method and we will definitely do this again. On turn in day, my sisters Jenny and Kathleen fine tuned the boxes, including doing touch up with parsley I have been growing on my patio. The home grown stuff is really nice, next year I will be raising an entire parsley garden.

But our turn in boxes looked great. Best appearance scores we have ever had, all but three scores on the entire sheet were 8 or 9. A lot of that had to do with the overall massive scores that were being handed out at the event, but I feel we deserved the high scores.

Anyway, on to the meat. Chicken I thought came out decent, but was a little on the salty side. It took 7th place call out of 16 teams. Ribs were next, I thought they were good, but they were also 7th place. With such a small field I knew I was screwed as far as winning the contest and the $3,000 first place. Bummer.

Anyway, pork was a disaster at Harpoon, and I was determined not to let that happen again. Another call, this time 6th place.

Final category was brisket, and while it was decent, I just wasn't happy with the results, but it was good enough for 4th place. Although the category score was a 173, which at most contests is good enough to win the category. But this was a weekend of massive scores, the trademark of upstate New York contests.

So in the end we were 5th overall, and walked away with a mere $325 of the $12,000 prize purse. It's ok though, sometimes you go to an event just to have fun and wind up winning some dough, other times you go with the goal of trying and win money and end up having a great time. That's what happened here.

Was the first time that I was able to get a massage after turn ins. Was a nice way to end what was a a fun weekend of BBQ.

1 comment:

Tango Joe said...

Sure sounds like you had a good time at a great event. Always fun to go to a well run cook off as well. Congrats on winning some gas money!