« Home | Harpoon Here We Come! » | Changes in the Weather » | Superbowl Sunday » | This Christmas Jenn bought me a commercial-grade ... » | Holiday Recap » | Thanksgiving Menu » | Where's He Been? » | Sunday With Family » | Cooking Grass-Fed Meats » | Saturday AM Quickie » 

Monday, July 27, 2009 

Harpoon 2009 - Day 1

This is my first update to the blog in ages and ages, and I’ve been exhorted to update more often by my fellow barbecuers and friends. To be honest, I’ve been much more active on Facebook, where Howling Hog Barbecue has a page (search for Howling Hog Barbecue and you’ll find us). But, I’ll make an effort to be a bit more active up here! And now, my missives from Harpoon 2009...

As you all know we made it into the Harpoon Championships of New England Barbecue this year, and this past weekend was when the big event took place. It was, without a doubt the best competition we’ve ever had in barbecue!

Farmer Girl, the Boy and I arrived early on Friday to find that most of the teams had already arrived and were fully set up. Fortunately, our favorite spot (booth 43) isn’t one that teams vending barbecue are looking for because it’s too close to the entrance. For us though, it works well to be there because folks are looking for dessert as they leave. For the past couple of years our friends Tim, Wendy, Becky and Andy of Feeding Friendz (pronounced fren-zy) have been our neighbor, which makes the location even more delightful. This season, Sandy and Dave of Boneyard Smokers finally got into Harpoon and they camped out in the spot across from Feeding Friendz, so for us it was like we had our own little block of close friends nearby.

Having these great folks close by is such a great perk! We visit like neighbors, sample eachther’s turn-ins and mooch the foods we’re selling. Being able to walk over to another booth and just park your chair for an hour of chatting is just great. Feeding Friendz and Bonyard Smokers have been just great to us! I’m grateful that five years ago at Harpoon we found ourselves next to Feeding Freindz. Being able to talk with Tim in the wee hours of the morning as I suffered through being alone in the booth that night was certainly the way to begin a valuable friendship.

In addition to Feeding Friendz and Boneyard Smokers, Vermont Barbecue (aka Smokin’ Fools BBQ) from Randolph, VT were set up in their usual spot at the end of the midway in what’s jokingly referred to as the ghetto of Harpoon. Pauline and Dave are pros who work the fair and festival circuit in our area as their primary way of making money. We were pleased to hear that they’ll be setting up next to our interstate exit next month and will be selling their awesome barbecue less than 10 miles from our home.

The Boy has really come into his own at age eleven and was solidly into helping us get the booth pulled together after we arrived. He volunteered to get our tent and sleeping gear out and was all out helpful throughout the entire weekend. I couldn't be more proud!

The Old Bull, Mamer and Peet arrived in the early afternoon to find the tents up and our gear somewhat organized. Kudos to Mame this year for having a plan for how to organize our kitchen, the setup we had was by far the best we’ve had yet! By late afternoon we had prepped up the briskets, butts and ribs. After the cooks dinner, served by IQue, we had the chance to catch up with our friends and socialize before we had to settle down to the business of cooking the main meats for the barbecue contest. The barbecuing didn’t stop us from hanging out with our buddies and having a late night nacho platter before bed.

The overnight went smoothly, although as always I got about an hour of sleep despite trying to get some shuteye between midnight and three in the morning. I think I’m always a bit paranoid that I’ll sleep through my alarm and screw up the cook! Once the rest of the crew was up, we enjoyed a massive breakfast cooked by Mame, the team chef. In the past couple of years, Mame has willingly taken responsibility for keeping us all fed, a job I am so grateful that she does. As our team’s pitmaster I’m way too occupied with keeping to my cooking schedule and program to be held responsible for feeding people. The morning keeps us busy as we get ready to start vending our baked goods (all cooked by Farmer Girl) and putting on the chicken and ribs.

By noon, everything was done and turn in finally started to roll.