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BBQ Tour Stop #12: Kingsford, MI

July 22, 2010

2010 U.P. Hog Wild         

Chris and I headed north out of New Jersey with our next stop being Kingsford, Michigan. When we first were looking at schedules, we thought it would be really fun to attend an event held in a community with ties to one of our sponsors – Kingsford Charcoal. Little did we know at the time just exactly where Kingsford, Michigan was at… researching the U. P. Hog Wild BBQ event, we realized that U.P. stood for Upper Peninsula which is as far North as the BBQ Tour has traveled yet.

There are a couple of ways to get to the U.P., one going through Wisconsin and the other through Michigan and crossing over the Mackinac Bridge. Those who know me know that I really dislike driving the trailer over bridges. Heck, I don’t even like driving a vehicle over bridges so the thought of driving over the Mackinac Bridge was not something that I was looking forward to. What took my mind off the bridge was the beautiful scenery driving through Northern Michigan. Rolling hills and green trees as far as the eye could see! Once we got to the bridge, it wasn’t as bad as I had feared and looking out onto the lakes was a beautiful sight, the one or two times that I opened my eyes to peek that is.

The U.P. Hog Wild BBQ contest is held in Kingsford, MI which is home to the first Ford Motor Company assembly plant and held in Lodal park which used to be the Kingsford Charcoal plants ash area and has been converted into a nice sports park with baseball diamonds and tennis courts. You could still see part of the original warehouse and water tower that produced the wooden body Ford Flivver’s.

Chris has been getting onto me about throwing things out into the crowd for the past three years, thinking maybe I would put somebody’s eye out or something like that. Well, at our Friday demonstration, her worst fears came true. Right after I gave out the Gourmet Burger to a fellow in the crowd, I was throwing out Weber Gourmet Burger seasonings and got too much air under one and knocked the plate right out of his hand along with his burger. Lucky for him, I had just prepared a gourmet burger so he got it hot and fresh off the grill.

Our crowd was even more involved on Saturday when a lady in the front row was so intent on listening to my demonstration and trying to win prizes for correct answers that when I asked where Weber Seasonings are made, she was yelling “Ankle, Knee, Ankle, Knee”. It is actually Ankeny, Iowa but that was how she remembered it. Chris and I were laughing so hard; I just had to give her the prize for paying attention!

Over the weekend, we also were able to sample a local food, a Pasty which is a miner food that was brought from Cornwall, England and consisted of meat, potato, onion and seasoning wrapped in a crust and then baked. Miners could carry a warm pasty into the cold iron mines in their pocket for a full course meal in the 43 degree mine. Dean and “Cousin Mike” brought out some Pastys from The Pasty Oven restaurant. They even mass produce Pastys for wholesale, retail and mail order. Dean’s family also owns the Iron Mountain Iron Mine and invited Chris and I to the mine for a tour on Sunday morning before we left town. Since Chris is claustrophobic, I went in the mine and had a great time seeing how mining was done over 100 years ago when they used mules and over 300 men to mine out millions of tons of iron ore.

John or Boss Hog as he is more affectionately known, Fran aka Daisy Duke, Chris and dozens of volunteers put on a wonderful music festival, barbeque and car show and the weather cooperated with blue skies and light winds.  Extreme Roasters won Reserve Grand while Pellet Envy walked away with Grand Champion honors.

Lastly, with this being a KCBS event, we got to meet the reps – Dale and Vicki. When we first met Vicki, I asked if she was local and she chuckled that no, they were not local and actually travel about 600 miles to rep the contest.  As Chris and I fueled up to head out of town, Dale and Vicki pulled in to gas up also and Dale and I visited a bit about the “gypsy” lifestyle we live. One funny thing I overheard Dale say in the cooks meeting was something about putting in a request with the KCBS board about instituting a “height requirement” to rep. This was a cute dig at Vicki who is on the “vertically challenged” side. I don’t think I would want to cross her though. We sure love all the BBQ folks we cross paths with!

-Mike (and Chris) Peters

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