Wild About New JerseyJuly 16, 2008 We headed out of West Atlantic City to the event in North Wildwood, New Jersey and while we were waiting for the electricians to hook up the trailer, we walked the event.
Let me give you an idea of our walk of the event, all four blocks of it. At one end was the stage and the first block was food vendors and the BBQ Teams. This event is the 10th Annual New Jersey State Championship and the team location was within a six foot tall fence - for a moment, I thought this would be Extreme Cage BBQ! (Little did I know how close I was to being right.)
There were 24 teams and only the top 18 get automatic invites back for the next year. All others have to submit their application and there is a lottery for the remaining spots. We setup Friday and the event was judged on Sunday so there were only a couple of teams on site. By Saturday afternoon, they were sardined into the spot and having a great time.
The second block of the event was vendors with Dodge vehicles and the new models, a regional meat company, our KCBS trailer and then a timeshare vacation club. The third block was mostly military with the Army, Marines and National Guard represented. The fourth block was crafts and right beyond the crafts was the sea wall and the Atlantic Ocean. We walked along the sea wall and met a local couple who showed us where the motels were and gave us some wonderful background on the area.
We met some wonderful KCBS members Friday and a first-time team came over for applications for membership. We also met the contest reps, Linda Mullane and Murray Saltzman, who came by the trailer and also took in our Saturday demonstration. We had more interest in KCBS membership than at previous events and even had one guy fill out his application right on our sampling table.
Saturday after our demonstration and sampling, we had the Philly Pigs team come by to visit with the public. The Philly Pigs won the Grand Champion award the last two years at this event and were a wealth of knowledge, especially about blue margarita's. We also invited the first-time team of "Stewed, Qued and Tattooed" to visit with everyone about taking that leap from backyard grilling to the big time of competition BBQ. Turns out that Dizzy Pig team took the Grand Champion award and our new team at least didn't take last place and even placed third in the sauce competition.
CBJ Instructor-Extraordinaire Ed Roith put on a couple of cooking classes and one couple who visited the trailer on Saturday evening told us about the great class that Ed put on. One of the KCBS judges who stopped in on Sunday after the judging told us that Ed was the instructor for his CBJ class many years ago as well. One other team that holds a special place with us was the Mason Dixon team - we have a standing invitation for dinner with them next year.
Each day and evening, the cool ocean breeze swept through the event and even though there was not a cloud in the sky, it was a very comfortable time. This event was great for everyone and they raised some good funds for the local fire department. They even served breakfast for the teams and vendors on Saturday morning. I can see why so many people want to be a part of the party. (OK, one minor bad thing... the seagulls are relentless! The gulls from finding Nemo are pretty much dead on. LOL)
I went to fill up with gas on Sunday morning - it is much easier when the trailer isn't attached - and there were four cars around each gas island... just sitting there... doing nothing. Being the inquisitive one, I asked one of the drivers if the pumps were broken and was informed that it is illegal in New Jersey to pump your own gas. No wonder the kid at Sam's club looked at me like I had three heads when I jumped out of the truck and pumped my own gas when we were still in West Atlantic City. There were no signs or anything on the pumps and I guess I could have gotten a $150 fine. There would have gone my winnings from Ceasars! Keep this in mind when you visit New Jersey to not pump your own gas and to be patient with the cars with New Jersey plates if you are in a neighboring state and they aren't getting out of their cars. They will probably be honking their horns waiting for the attendant to pump their gas.
Eric, the event chairperson checked on us each day and ran an excellent event. We wanted to take in as much as possible so we canceled our room Saturday night in West Atlantic City and stayed in Wildwood Crest, which was about 10 minutes south of the event and even saved money on the room. We got to the hotel around 10pm and you could hear the waves breaking on the beach. Chris and I took our shoes off and walked to the water and looked North and saw the lighted ferris wheel and rides on the boardwalk in Wildwood. We were later told that there was a soccer tournament on that beach the weekend before so you can imagine the long walk. I was up at 6 the next morning and the fog was so thick, I could hardly see the parking lot. I trekked to the water and watched the sun come up and burn the fog off while I walked the shoreline for shells. There was even a jellyfish (I think) washed up onshore the size of a dinner plate and I had to watch out for the tractors raking the beach. Can you tell that we really enjoyed our trip to New Jersey?
We left on Sunday and took the scenic route - OK, not totally by choice but it looked like a shorter route. It was shorter in distance but a bit longer in time while we got in line with what seemed like half of New Jersey heading North. The GPS didn't take us through downtown this time and we made sure to drive past Philly in the dark so just in case I inadvertently cut someone off, I would not have to see any unwanted gestures. LOL
Going to Des Moine for a Rib America festival and a tour of the plant that makes the Weber seasonings. Gotta wash the truck before the event, nothing like hundreds of miles of bugs.
Watch for the next installment and beware the gulls...
Mike & Chris