Sticking My Toe Into the Competition Pool

Frank Eriksen

My slogan for my Barbecue Chef’s website has always been, “We Don’t Compete. We Eat!” Looks like I may have to change or modify that. I’ve gone and entered my first barbecue contest.

A few weeks ago, I was scouring my monthly copy of the Kansas City Barbeque Society’s “Bullsheet.” On the back cover was a full-page ad by the fine folks at Smoke On The Water, a group of barbecue people who put on some of the biggest and highest-paying barbecue competitions in the US of A.

In the ad they listed all the comps they were putting on this year. Since I don’t compete, I don’t usually pay much attention to these ads. However, I suddenly noticed that one of their contest sites is Loveland, Colorado. That’s just 20 miles north of my digs in Boulder.

I went to the contest web site, and lo and behold, what did I see? Along with a Pro event, they’re holding an amateur rib contest; and the entry fee is only $100! The next thing I knew, I had whipped out my credit card and entered my first barbecue contest.

I stood up and shouted “I’m a barbecue comp team!” Then I realized I’m just one guy, hardly a team. I’m competing as “Roaring Fork BBQ,” the name of my old almost catering company. I even have a cool logo designed by Patrick Carlson of, the best barbecue logo creator on the planet, in my opinion.

Then I started creating a small list of everything I’d need to bring. My other motto is “Keep It Simple.” After all, it’s just an amateur event, and I’m cooking ribs only. First prize: $500. No biggie! Nothing to get all worked up about! Here is my list, in no particular order:

  • Paper towels
  • Clean rags
  • Knives
  • Barbecue sauce
  • Barbecue rub
  • 12 slabs of ribs
  • Aprons
  • Roaring Fork BBQ T-Shirts
  • Jacket
  • Tennis shoes
  • Hats
  • Cutting board
  • Sanitary gloves
  • Buffet table
  • 80 to 100 pounds of charcoal
  • Box of wood (post oak or hickory/apple)
  • Weber charcoal lighter cubes
  • 2 Chimney Starters
  • Cambro
  • 22” WSM
  • Weber Performer grill
  • Chairs
  • Flashlight/Lamp
  • Coolers for food and drink
  • Barbecue gloves
  • Tongs
  • Stainless steel pans
  • Pop-up canopy
  • 4 cement blocks to keep the canopy from blowing away
  • Water
  • Coffee
  • Coleslaw and potato salad for Friday night party
  • Squeeze bottles
  • Aluminum foil
  • Honey
  • Mustard
  • Brown sugar
  • Butter
  • iPod
  • Music system
  • First aid kit
  • Clear wrap
  • Spray bottles
  • Apple juice
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Barbecue brush
  • Barbecue mop
  • Rib mop ingredients
  • T paper
  • Medications
  • And, of course, my Bible. Hey, a little help from above is always a good thing.

Beside all this, I’m working up my competitive spirit. I want to win this thing. The rules are easy: cook a minimum of 5 slabs of ribs; turn in 6 bones; no garnish; turn-in time 12:30 p.m. on Saturday. From 1–3, give samples to event attendees in exchange for a ticket. The team with the most tickets wins $100.

Needless to say, I’m excited. If in come in dead last (there’s no way that’s going to happen), I may have the shortest competition career in history. But if I place in the top 5 or win? Let’s just say I’ll be thinking of calling Lavern to order a Meadow Creek TS250 with the smoker box and the BBQ42 Chicken Cooker, with the chrome smoke stack and chrome wheels. Trailer-mounted, naturally!

Hey, my philosophy is, if you’re going to dream, you might as well dream big!

Stay blessed, my friends.

This recipe first appeared in Issue 36 of StoryQue magazine.

About the author 

Frank Eriksen

Frank Eriksen is a voice-over artist, podcaster, blogger, backyard barbecue enthusiast, and a KCBS Certified BBQ Judge. He lives in Boulder, Colorado and cooks on a 22.5 WSM. Visit BBQ Chefs website.


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