3rd Annual Stagecoach BBQ Championships
April 24-25, 2009
Indio, CA

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Stagecoach is an event unlike any other.  It is a massive, multi-day country music festival held on an endless polo field in the middle of the Southern California desert.  To one side, there is a BBQ competition -- to be precise, three BBQ competitions.  On Saturday, a KCBS contest and an IBCA contest were held simultaneously, and cooks had no sooner finished that Ironman day then they had to turn around and start all over again for the following day.

To up the ante just a bit, some veryfine national talent had been imported.  Ronnie Wade of Blazen BBQ, former world champion and a name that makes all of Texas quake in its collective boots;  Scottie Johnson of cancersuckschicago.com, another former world champion and a ferocious competitor cutting a swath across the country with the goal of cooking (and winning) in every state.

And then there were the Davises.  If you've watched the Versus BBQ Championship Series on the Food Network or DVD, you've seen Mike Davis.  He's the big guy with the white mustache whose eyes give away absolutely nothing.  He's a man who knows what he's doing, and watching him scares me.  In other words, we had no shortage of "real-world" talent to keep us honest -- and a little intimidated.
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The wind was brisk as the camps got set up, and never let up for a minute from Friday all through midday Sunday.  
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Night fell, the wind kept blowing, and Reba McEntire sang to me as I trimmed chicken.  VQ did his thing, hooking up the Stokers and working out the incredibly complicated cook schedule for the next morning.
The double turn-in schedule was BRUTAL -- at one point we had three turn-ins for two different organizations within a 30-minute window. A number of teams missed one or more turn-ins. The wind didn't help -- we only had one hand each to do things, the other one was always occupied trying to keep something from blowing away! The wind took a pan of food across the table (lucky save). I didn't have the lucky save for a KCBS box, though -- it flipped right over and its garnish completely blew apart. I nearly cried. There's nothing you can do but slam together another one while you're supposed to be doing something else, and just not think about how it's not as lovely as the first one while you're scrambling to catch up.
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Once the insanity of entries was over, we had a chance to take a breath, look around, and see the sights that let you know you could be nowhere else but Stagecoach.
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Genius-inspired marketing pieces were applied with a firm slapping motion.
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I found a moment to slip away to the petting zoo.  Wouldn't that be the best souvenir EVER?!
The day wore on, and it was time to go to the awards ceremony.  IBCA contests are called out by ticket numbers -- it's like the longest and most nerve-wracking bingo game ever.  When all the tickets have been called and claimed, then the tabulations begin.  And when it was all said and done, some little team from Arizona was standing up there.

Then it all started again as names were called for KCBS categories.  As team after team was called, the tension built.  We'd been reasonably satisfied with our entries, but there was a limit -- wasn't there?  It seemed like too much to ask, but our name was called again.
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We'd managed to take down two GCs in two different contests in the same day.  We were the very proud new owners of matching his-and-hers BATs (Big-Ass Trophies).
So now all I can think is:  Now we've got five qualifying events for the Jack, out of the seven that will gain us automatic entry.  Where are we going to scrape up two more???!!!

Results Saturday KCBS:  1st Chicken, 7th Pork, 4th Brisket
52 Teams
Results Saturday IBCA:  3rd Chicken, 6th Ribs, 1st Brisket
59 Teams
Results Sunday KCBS:  10th Chicken, 6th Pork, 3rd Brisket
50 Teams, 5th Overall



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