Today is the last day of MIM, everything has been leading up to this day!
At the end of today, a team will be crowned Grand Champion MIM 2014, along with winner of whole hog, shoulder and ribs section.
I woke up a bit later this morning, as the weather had turned nasty. There was also no point getting in too early, as the team were in ‘game mode’, and I would just be in the way.
Patty had left a nice surprise on the table, and also made a fantastic corn bread breakfast. A nice start to the day.
I fixed the front door for Patty, so she kindly drove me to the event. The booth was quiet, and the atmosphere was more serious than the last two days, as everyone was focussed on the reason for being here, producing the best ribs!
The booth was being partitioned in half to allow for a presentation area to be set up for one on one judging.
The judging process involved two steps. The first was judging of the ‘blind box’. Your ribs were judged without the judges knowing which team presented them. The blind box judging forms one half of the total points, with the booth visits making up the other half.
The ribs were taken off the smoker, carefully selected and then cut with the precision of a surgeon!
Once everyone was happy with taste and presentation, off they went, accompanied by a huge cheer!
The second part of the process was by a personal visit by three judges. They are welcomed into the booth, sit down, and are presented with your entry.
Not only is it about tasting, it is also about the team, how the product was cooked, and anything else that will help win the judge’s vote.
The only team members allowed in the booth during judging are the senior members. The rest of the team wait outside, looking in.
It was quite tense watching the judging, and everything had to be perfect!
Neil started the presentation, followed by Eric talking about the smoker.
John brought out the ribs for tasting, and Shane explained how they were cooked.
Once the judge’s time was up, everyone shook hands, and then everything was cleared ready for the next one to arrive.
With the judging over, there was a sigh of relief! There was nothing to do now but wait, if we made it into the top three, the judges would return.
Neil filled out the feedback form for each judge.
The judges did stop at our booth, but only just to allow another vehicle to pass!
We didn’t make the top three, but that was not the end of it. At Memphis in May, you get a trophy for being placed in the top ten. There was still hope for this, and that would be just as much an accomplishment as winning!
To fill in time, I decided to walk around the park, and I was lucky enough to bump into Ray Lampe, ‘Dr BBQ’. Nice bloke and even though he was busy, he was able to stop and talk.
I had promised the guys from Peg Leg Porker a visit, and caught up with Carey and Steve.
Whilst there I met Bennett and Bill from Fox Bros. BBQ in Atlanta GA. We organised a visit for the last night of my BBQ Adventure, nice!
The crowd numbers seemed down, and most of the corporate booths were empty today. The weather was getting worse, with rain threatening, not a great way to end the festival.
It was time for the results to be announced, and space was at a premium. There was a buzz of excitement as teams listened with hopes on getting a placing.
Whole hog and shoulder winners were announced. My mates at Big Bob Gibson did very well, they not only won the Kingsford tour of champions, but also, whole shoulder!
The ribs section was last, and a light shower was falling. The place winners were announced, and just like yesterday, it was not looking good.
The teams from tenth to seventh were announced, and then, “sixth place ribs, Too Sauced To Pork”!
WOW, our team just erupted into uncontrolled joy, and we all ran towards the stage, flag proudly flying!
Just like yesterday, the feeling was hard to describe. My first MIM, and I was up on the stage twice! Some teams have never been up on the big stage.
The team returned back to the booth, with many teams cheering as we returned.
Some seemed not all that happy that we did well!
It was a fantastic feeling returning back to the booth, a well deserved first placing in vinegar based sauce yesterday, and a special sixth place in ribs today.
Too Sauced to Pork is a big ‘family’, and we all congratulated each other, to the senior team members, it was well deserved!
Dinner and drinks was served, and despite the park closing at ten tonight, the team celebrated!
Not too hard though, as they still had to pack up.
I went home very happy and pleased with myself. I had been part of a special team who have the ability to allow an average backyard BBQ pundit, the opportunity to be part of a championship team.
I was always made to feel welcome, and felt privileged to be part of the whole experience.
Sadly this is the end of my BBQ Adventure ‘proper’, as tomorrow I am driving from Memphis TN to Augusta GA.
The drive will take all day, and as I leave for home on Wednesday, I will be using the last two days to sightsee!
And the team that won Grand Champion? My mates at Big Bob Gibson, well done guys!