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.

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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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