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Des Moines — Can You Hear Me Now?

July 29, 2008
If you could, it must have been one of the rare moments... Rib America in downtown Des Moines was all about the music and some very good barbecue. And yes, the music was LOUD!

As we were pulling into the hotel prior to the event, we kinda got stuck. Literally. The only place to park was in the back of the hotel down a ramp. Remember, we are pulling a 28 ft trailer with a crew cab truck and it has a certain turning radius and that radius could not happen going down that ramp. The manager at the hotel was great to call one of the other hotels to move our reservations. Chris "volunteered" a guest to come and help me back the trailer into oncoming traffic to head to the other hotel. He was used to directing traffic and even got his bright orange safety vest on to help.

When we got to the hotel that the manager directed us to, we realized at check-in that she had actually called a different hotel. This one though was right across the street from our event so everything worked out great. OK, not quite everything. On our drive to Des Moines, we drove through the quad cities and were surprised how much water was still standing from the floods.

Before we set up at the event, we got to take a tour of the Tone's Seasoning plant that makes the Weber Grill Creations seasonings and even did a presentation for their employees. I always thought that pepper was pepper... Luckily Justin Jenkins, the processing manager, set me straight. They produce a number of different spice blends and it was a wonderful tour that Chris and I thoroughly enjoyed and gave us a new appreciation for these spices. We actually saw a number of spices that we use for our own dry rub that we make for competition.

Unfortunately, the rain did not stay away as it rained each day of the event. Friday was a light rain and washed everything down. Saturday was a beautiful sunny day and as we showed up at the trailer, Jon from Willingham's BBQ brought over the NBC affiliate to do a spot for the morning show. He even brought over a "wet" pulled pork sandwich (coleslaw on the meat between the buns) and one of the news guys "chowed" down. The picture of him with the sauce dripping down his chin and on his cheeks was priceless!  We had a couple of KCBS Certified BBQ Judges come down to help us with the sampling and had a great crowd for the demo, so Chris and I quizzed them about judging and what they look for in turn in boxes. The crowds were good and the vendors all had lines.

After one of the last band breaks, we headed to the hotel and started watching the weather reports of really bad weather to the North of Des Moines. It stayed away until Hootie and the Blowfish got their third song in and then the heavens opened up and it rained long and hard. I really felt for the vendors out there. None of the tents came down but it sure took a lot of the people out of the event.

On Sunday, after everything was put back together from the winds Saturday night, we had a nice crowd for our demo and sampling and even had Lew Miller of the Iowa BBQ Society do a rib demonstration on prepping a nice slab of ribs.

Sunday night (or should I say Monday morning at around 3am), I woke up to rain hitting the window. When I looked out, the rain was flying horizontally. Again, more tornado's and straight line winds which headed East right along the highway. We learned that it went East when we pulled off the interstate for lunch and there were still power lines down so we had to take a side road back to the interstate and saw a number of trees uprooted across roads and houses. Coming from Kansas, we have seen wheat fields laying down after a storm but never have we seen cornfields that looked like someone took a rolling pin through them.

On the way to Columbus, we stopped off and visited my stepmother and father along the way. Thank you all for your prayers because she had one of her lungs removed along with quite a few lymph nodes and she was released on Tuesday and looks just wonderful.

After Columbus, we head home for a couple of weeks. It has been a long time coming and we are more than ready to sleep in our own bed. Our oldest daughter graduates from college and we are having family in town. Her one request for her graduation party was BBQ... After grilling at all these events, I am looking forward to firing up the smoker and cooking for all of our family and friends. I also got an email that our home BBQ event (rocknribs.com) will be having the check presentation to the charities that we support during the time that we will be home. Guess I'll have to put on long pants and shoes. Chris always chuckles when she sees my feet - I have two different pairs of crocs and have a little "checkerboard" thing going on with my suntanned feet.

Look for the Columbus information very soon...
Mike & Chris

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