When I crawled in bed on Saturday night, my wife asked, “Did you have fun at Pig-a-Palooza”? I informed her that the question wasn’t one that should be asked at the end of a 21 hour day. But, ask me again in a couple of days.
Well, it’s been a couple of days and I can finally say “Yes, it was fun”. I always enjoy cooking BBQ, feeding folks who have never had good BBQ, and seeing their reaction. This year’s event delivered on all three, and we raised money for a good cause at the same time.
My good friend (and fellow pitmaster) Dave and I arrived at the park at 2:30am. We had the cooker lit, the pork butt seasoned, and the meat on by 4:00am. I was figuring on an 8 hour cook time based on my most recent cook. I’d need the butts to start coming off the cooker at noon or shortly thereafter to make room for 24 sides of ribs (that’s 72 portions when you serve 4 bones/plate).
As noon approached, I began to get nervous. I wasn’t seeing the butts get to where they should be and we needed to get the ribs on. We got about 1/4 of the ribs on and I was out of space. So at 1:30, we decided it was time to start a fire in the grill that was provided for cooking burgers and dogs, wrap the butts that were close in foil, and let them finish there. Disaster averted. We were able to get all the meat done by serving time or shortly thereafter.
We began serving food at 4:00pm and saw a steady line of hungry folks for the next 4 hours. Now, we’d planned to serve BBQ as long as we could and then sell burgers and dogs when the band began playing somewhere after 7:30. Boy, did we misjduge the turnout.
In the first hour, we recognized that we were gonna be short on sides, burgers, dogs, soda, plates, and chips. We sent someone to the store for more food 4 times during the event. While I can’t make more BBQ in a couple of hours, we can keep grilling burgers and dogs. So we did. But even then, we were completely sold out by 8:00pm and couldn’t reasonably get additional product quickly enough to keep cooking. Hey, that’s a good problem to have.
All this just speaks to the turnout for this year’s event. I’d estimate that we saw at least double (if not triple) the turnout this year. I’ve thought some about why that it is, and I figure it like this. We experienced a perfect storm. The event has momentum. The band was very notable and entertaining. And, we had exceptional weather. All the ingredients to make the event a resounding success.
Or, maybe they just came for the BBQ!