For anybody who’s anybody on the BBQ circuit, Mesquite was the place to be this weekend; especially when there was a state competition and big money at stake.
Smoking in Mesquite, a Kansas City BBQ Society (KCBS) sanctioned event, sponsored by the Casablanca Resort held its 4th annual state competition Sept 1 and 2 in the Casablanca Event Tent and parking lot.
This year’s competition had 48 teams all claiming to be number one but it was the Ridge Route Boys BBQ team that took the $10,000 prize that said they had the best overall BBQ in the bunch. They also walked away with first prize in the chicken category.
The team of LoneStar Smoke Rangers took first place in Brisket; R &R BBQ claimed the best in pork and 4 Legs Up BBQ won first in Ribs.
Taking second place overall was the team who calls themselves Bam Bam’s BBQ and third place winner overall was the team of Who’s Smokin Now.
The 2011 overall winner, Smoke on Wheels and the second place team of Rhythm ‘n Que did not compete this year in Smokin in Mesquite but that didn’t sway the competition in anybody’s favor, there were 5 more teams to compete against in this year’s state competition; 48 teams in all…that’s a lot of BBQ.
Those of you who came out this weekend and had a good taste of BBQ can thank Mesquite Gaming’s Executive Director of Food and Beverage, Chef Bruce Landvik. Landvik is no stranger to BBQ, anybody who has ever had the ribs or pulled pork at the Chuck Wagon or The Purple Fez will agree to that. The BBQ dishes are among the guest favorites.
In 2009, Landvik did his homework, contacted the KCBS and put Mesquite on the BBQ map with the biggest prize payout offered in the circuit; $40,000.
Landvik did his job; he brought the largest organization of barbeque and grilling enthusiasts to Mesquite. The KCBS is over 15,000 members strong and the organization is world-wide.
KCBS offers educational programs such as the Cooking With Kelly class the Casablanca on Friday and a class which certified anyone interested in becoming a KCBS official judge Friday evening.
Saturday was all about winning the prize and the cooking began as early as 2:30 a.m.
The Smokin in Mesquite team occupied the same spot near the street they’ve occupied in the past three year’s competitions, and this year they brought their own pool to help ward off the smokin hot Mesquite weather.
Temperatures soared to the mid to upper 90’s which sent many families like the Carber family from Salt Lake City to cooler, wetter places like Mesquite’s new Splash Pad at the Sport and Event Complex.
Jake, and wife Anna, Carber along with their three children ventured all the way from Salt Lake City because they were lucky enough to have been in Mesquite last year for the BBQ and had a great time.
This year the family was singing a completely different tune. “There is absolutely nothing to do this year; there are no vendors, not much food to speak of, you can’t buy from the competitors and they only have two food vendors beside the Kona Ice truck, and that’s not real food”, said Anna Carber.
“There’s a beer garden in the tent and a couple of vendors handing out information, that’s where we found out about the Splash Pad, but even the entertainment is only a D.J. and the acoustics inside are terrible”, said Jake Carber while the little ones chimed in periodically with, “Are we leaving yet?”
The couple agreed that this event may have been great for the BBQ competitors but it certainly was a huge disappointment to the families that came this year, especially the ones who had visited past events and knew that the Casablanca had done great things in previous years.
Anna Carber went on to say that the couple and family enjoy a great BBQ and they believe BBQ is synonymous with back yards and spending quality time with family and friends so they planned their family’s Labor Day weekend around coming to Mesquite but will reconsider that same thought in the future after finding out that this year’s event was anything but family friendly. “Next year”, said Anna, “We’ll stick to the back yard.”
Mesquite local, Jack Ward, got as far as the beginning of the parking lot and noticed that there was practically nobody walking around outside and those that were didn’t look much like they were having a good time. “Not one person walking around was smiling or even talking to one another, nobody looked to me like they were having any fun at all and many of the people I did see were leaving; I asked a couple what was going on and got a very abrupt, 'Not a thing, that’s why we’re leaving and we won’t be back.'” “Well”, said Ward, “I turned right around and headed back home to sit by the pool and watch bikinis.”
Carol Stravely, of St. George, Utah attended the event and wasn’t surprised to see only the vendors giving out the information. Stravely told the MLN, “My girlfriend makes handbags and she checked into getting a booth this year. The contract wanted the vendors, who were selling merchandise, to pay $100 for the table as well as 20% of their merchandise sales; who can afford that?” Stravely, who is a crafter herself, did some quick calculations on her watch prices and confessed that she would have to sell ten single watches in order to make her table fee and after that there was no way she could afford to give up twenty percent of her profits. “After fees, taxes, table or booth space and gas to get here, I’d end up losing money to sit here for two days, I’m sure that’s a big reason why you aren’t seeing any vendors. I price my watches very reasonably for the work that goes into making them along with the materials. If I priced them any higher to make up for what I’d have to pay for the space, nobody would buy them anyway; it’s a catch-22.”
Most all of the families that spoke with the MLN expressed their disappointment but are hopeful that with a little feedback, the Casablanca and the Smokin in Mesquite BBQ Competition will once again be the family friendly, fun event it was in years past.
As for the BBQ teams that competed, most agree that with this sort of prize money and a state competition at stake, they’ll return to Mesquite year after year to claim their piece of the prize money and the bragging rights of being the best BBQ in the Smokin in Mesquite Competition.