ClovisFest Red Hot & Real BBQ Competition
September 29-30, 2007
Clovis, CA

You know your weekend is off to a good start when "Dr. BBQ" himself, Ray Lampe, stops by to do the greet-and-photo-op:
It was nice that we got a chance to get acquainted with him beforehand, because we ended up doing a lot more hugging and handshaking on Saturday afternoon.

This contest's result was really, really sweet because we had hauled our butts up to Clovis to pay respect to our teachers, Brent and Kim Walton of QN4U -- and they took Grand Champion. It was a fine, fine day.
But we should begin at the beginning.  Here was the turn-in schedule:

Saturday morning started off as all contest mornings do, with sorting garnish and building boxes.  These fellows got fairly excited over my lettuce.  You can read his lips.

On top of that lettuce went some ribs!

It seemed like only minutes went by before we were prepping brisket.  Look how long ago this was -- we hadn't even bought any decent knives yet!

Once the four meats were done, we slapped our Anything But entry on a tray.  They were just little pumpkin caramel cheesecakes -- at the time I had NO idea of how elaborate the entries usually are!

When all the turn-ins were done, we were just happy that we'd kept to our plan and hit all our marks.  We didn't have any great expectations, because it was a big field with some big names, but we went to the awards ceremony knowing we'd done our job.

And what do you know!  Those little cheesecakes pulled in fourth in Anything But!  There was much squealing and bouncing, but I pulled it together to stand still for the trophy shot.
On went the calls, and amazingly enough we heard our name again -- for 8th place chicken!  We were totally stoked -- we'd pulled a top ten meat call in that field!  We trotted back up, collected our medal, and sat down thinking we'd really pulled something off.

We were entirely unprepared when it got around to the high calls for ribs, and we were called for SECOND!!!  I was still screaming in disbelief as VQ was already out of the shot, motoring on up without me.
Holding up another envelope with Dr. BBQ -- we were getting a little better at it by then.

We sat down thinking that our day was entirely and perfectly complete.  We'd gotten a high call, in that field, and anything else would be just gravy.
Which made the fourth-place pork call even better!

And then, in the euphoria, things just started getting weird.  Ray is such a good sport.

When the Reserve and Grand Champions were announced, they called the top five teams to come up, just like Miss Freaking America, and there we were in the top five!  

One name after another was called, one team after another was honored and sat down, until in a scene beyond our wildest imaginings, it was just us and our teachers up there.  Somehow we'd managed to compete in an open field with them, and be scored right up there with them!

Then Reserve Grand Champion was called, and it was Rhythm 'n QUE.  And just like at Miss America, there was a LOT of kissing and crying.
The GC and RGC trophies were bronze Remington replicas, the same as the larger-than-life two that stand in the town.  Poor VQ was trying to juggle sunglasses, trophy and handshakes!
These are our teachers, Brent and Kim Walton of QN4U.  As happy as they were with their win, they were thrilled to have their students up there with them.  Kim and I were still verklempt.
VQ was pretty fond of his big horsie.  I was pretty fond of the big envelopes.  That trophy stands in our living room to this day, reminding us of an event whose memory we cherish.



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