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Great American BBQ Tour Stop #5 – Stagecoach Festival (Daisy Dukes and Cowboy Boots)

April 29, 2009
The Stagecoach Music Festival was held in Indio, CA at the 40-acre Empire Polo Club. We set up on Thursday afternoon and walked around a little bit while things were still getting organized. They have three stages with music acts playing all weekend long.

The “Mane” stage had Kenny Chesney, Brad Paisley, Reba McIntire, Kid Rock, Lady Antebellum, Miranda Lambert and others. The BBQ area was set up to the right of the “Mane” stage. All of the BBQ teams were situated around a corral with picnic tables. This corral served as the People’s Choice area with prizes not only for good BBQ but also best booth. There was a lot of creativity onsite as we saw a stagecoach set-up, a saloon front and dozens of decorated smokers. I think the most unique one was a version of a drum smoker that was made out of an aluminum Peterbilt Semi Truck fuel tank!

There were two KCBS barbeque competitions and one IBCA barbeque contest at Stagecoach. The first KCBS competition was held on Saturday, along with the IBCA contest. Most of the teams competed in both of the simultaneous events, which resulted in some challenges with turn-ins. The one team that had things down pat was Rhythm ‘n Que from Phoenix, who took home Grand Champion trophies for both of the Saturday contests.

Sunday’s lone KCBS contest seemed to run a little smoother for most of the teams since they had to focus on only one contest. Mike and Debbie Davis of Lotta Bull BBQ started strong by winning first place in both Chicken and Ribs. They held off The Smokepranos for the Grand Champion award on Sunday. Lotta Bull BBQ had an engagement in Virginia a couple of days after Stagecoach so they pulled out of the event before the awards. Phillip Brazier filled in for them and used the BBQ World Magazine, with Mike’s picture on the cover, to accept the awards. Since they were flying home and the five foot trophy wouldn’t clear the TSA requirements, we offered to deliver it to Mike and Debbie when we take the trailer out to Sevierville in mid May.

The one thing that really impressed me was the BBQ brotherhood that was shown by all these Arizona and California teams. Everyone was truly happy for the success of the teams that received calls. They even went one step further. All the teams kicked in money for Scottie Johnson‘s (Cancer Sucks Chicago) foundation in honor of Monica, who lost her battle with cancer. Merl Whitebook even had a young lady in the crowd getting money for the cause.

Chris and I got to meet quite a few of the teams on Friday and were impressed with some of the technology that was in use. The Fast Eddie’s team had 8 WSM’s set up around a table with wires running to boxes and a wireless system. Everything was connected to a laptop that was also connected to the wireless devices that followed grate temperature and meat temperature.

The Whiskey Ranch team had probably the largest drum smoker that I have ever seen. It must have been three feet across! We gained an all-access pass to the Notley Que campsite. The Notley Que guys were a lot of fun! I think that the “trooper” of the weekend had to be Bill Milroy of Texas Rib Rangers. He tripped in his booth and broke his hand, but he still vended to the masses and competed in the contests.

Speaking of the “masses”, they anticipated over 80,000 people a day at the event. I overheard one person explaining the Stagecoach festival as “Daisy Dukes and Cowboy Boots” and that about summed it up. The weather brought out the bikini tops, short shorts and dudes without shirts. Some of the dudes should have shirted up and a couple of the ladies should have worn more clothes. Other than that, the scenery and entertainment was top notch.

The weather was in the low 80’s, which made for a great weekend. We saw quite a few people and handed out lots of goodies and samples. Chris even started stuffing bags three hours early on Sunday to try to keep ahead of the crowds. Lucky for us, we had some awesome help. We had two young men who helped the tour out last year at Stagecoach. We were also very lucky to have a local KCBS Certified Judge, Dave Farrell, come out to help us. Dave was awesome and chipped in with anything that needed to get done. We hope that he might be able to come and help us later in the year when we head to Sparks.

We will be heading toward home with retail sampling stops in Phoenix, Amarillo and Oklahoma City in between. We look forward to seeing more thumbs up and hearing good luck honks on the road.

Mike (& Chris) Peters

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