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Great American Cookout

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April 3, 2017

Another year, another Great American Cookout Tour. This season marks the 10th year that Christine and I have been fortunate enough to tour the country promoting BBQ for KCBS and their numerous partners. Back again as presenting sponsor is McCormick GrillMates. It is great to promote a product that you already have in your kitchen cabinet that you regularly use. Montreal Steak seasoning and Brown Sugar Bourbon will be the go-to seasonings at our 20 stops this year! Bubba Burgers are back again with 100% USDA choice chuck beef with no added sodium! They stand behind the saying that Bubba is the best burger you are going to bite! Christine and I still eat them at every event! Cowboy Charcoal joins the tour again this year with the best lump charcoal on the market! The Southern Blend Oak and Hickory mix has been our competition choice since it came to market providing consistent lump sizes and burn times. New for us this year is Western Premium BBQ Products providing us with wood chips and chunks to add flavor with smoke! No better place to burn charcoal and wood than a new smoker sponsor for the tour. 270 Smokers join us this year providing a great product! The Sumo smoker is fully insulated providing long burn times and a patented heated draft system. I have been most impressed by the dual chimney chambers that allow me some versatility in cooking. I can let the meat sit in the smoke or vent out quicker. Plus the powder coated exterior looks great and cleans up easily! Last but certainly not least, we have a great sponsor in Gunter Wilhelm knives! The Lightning Pro-Cut series is a great value and can be customized with logos like our KCBS branded knives!

Having sponsors means you get to go out and promote their products. This year we have 20 festivals on the books taking us from coast to coast and border to border! Our first event is in Cedar Park, Texas which is just NW of Austin. On the way, we were asked to do a Friday morning TV spot on KEYE - CBS in Austin for the We Are Austin Lifestyle show with Taylor Ellison. We picked up some ribs at Walmart on the way and fired up the 270 Smoker in the parking lot of the hotel on Thursday afternoon. Because we couldn’t unload the cooker from the trailer, we cracked the stage door and left the door open to draft out the smoke. Of course we had folks stop to visit and see what was going on. One group was from a local Hearth and Patio store that sells grills and we had a nice little one on one infomercial on the 270 Smoker right there in the trailer! One of the old men even asked Chris if we were a father/daughter team out on the road. She had quite the chuckle over that one… Early Friday morning we loaded into the event site and teams were already setting up. When we got back from the TV station, it was almost a full house as 70 teams were packing into the site.

Saturday morning when we arrived, it was cloudy and overcast with chances of afternoon storms which was quite a difference from the beautiful cloud free hot Friday. I expected the threatening weather to keep people away but they came out to support the festival. As I was walking around visiting with teams after we were all set up, I stumbled across a couple of guys under an ez-up working on their parsley boxes. I asked where their women folk were to make those boxes, as Christine is our box builder. They shot back pretty quickly that she was welcome to come build their boxes and we all laughed as I told them I had her working at the trailer! They did stop by after awards with their trophies so their cooking must have matched their box building skills!

Our Western Premium Wood Products contact stopped in to drop off wood chips and chunks for the tour. Christine’s eyes got really big as he backed up his truck and dropped the tailgate. I don’t think he could fit another bag in the bed and then also said he had more in the back seat! I think we have enough for the first couple events at least! We spent the afternoon passing out Bubba Burger samples, McCormick Grillmate Mesquite sausage samples, coupons, stickers and enjoyed visiting with the crowds. We also smoked up some Sweet Soy Bourbon chicken thighs that were a HIT using the Grillmate Brown Sugar Bourbon seasoning! While there weren’t a lot of teams that we knew before the event, the Texas teams welcomed us with open arms! At the awards ceremony, our old friend Byron of Buttrub.com won chicken while Mason Dixon Swine won ribs. Blue Smoke BBQ of Frisco won pork and The Lone Star BBQ Crew won brisket. J & J’s Rollin’ Smoke BBQ Team won Reserve Grand and Fat Boys BBQ - Temple, TX won Grand Champion!

We must be getting used to the load up and tear down grind as we were packed up and heading out while the sun was still shining! Back to the hotel for a day then a weeks worth of retail stops on the way back home! Hard to believe that Cedar Park is the 200th festival for the Cookout Tour and #195 for Christine and I. What started 10 years ago as looking online for a recipe and seeing a request for another Tour team has turned into what it is today. We are truly blessed to do what we love.

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