Tag: pigapalooza

The “Mini” Pig-a-palooza

For the past few years, I’ve manned the BBQ pit in support of Jacob’s Ladder and their annual BBQ & music event called Pig-a-Palooza.  The event has a lot of momentum and this year was the best yet.

For the second straight year, we’ve donated BBQ for a private party as part of a silent auction item.  This year, it was part of an auction package that included a miniature version of the entire Pig-a-Palooza event including side dishes, wine & beer, pulled pork and ribs, and live entertainment.  The lucky winner of this year’s auction item selected October 6th for the date of their shindig, and we put the wheels in motion.


So Saturday morning, I was up early stoking the smoker for the BBQ.  Getting pulled pork ready for a couple of dozen people is pretty easy.  Heck, getting ribs ready for a couple of dozen folks is pretty easy.  But, my bride also chose this day as one of her customer appreciation days where we cook ribs for friends, clients, and colleagues of The Bradshaw Property Group.  That means 24+ racks of babyback ribs.  Now that’s a lot of work.

 Pork butts went on the cooker by 6:00am and at 10:30am I began the prep of the ribs.  Prepping that many ribs single handedly takes some time.  Did I mention that it’s a lot of work?  But I had ribs on the Backwoods by 11:30am.  

My timing was spot on!  I had the butts wrapped by 4:30pm and resting in the Cambro, and I began the process of glazing and finishing the ribs around 4:00pm.  Friends, clients, and colleagues began pickingup thier customer appreciation gifts around 5:00pm, and I headed out to Mini Pig-a-Palooza at 6:00pm with a second Cambro full of BBQ goodness.


We gloved up and served the party goers to rave reviews while a friend of mine, Steve Reeb, entertained the good folks.  My co-pitmaster, Dave Dey, and I took up the guitar for a miniature set of our own while Steve was on break (thanks for being so gracious Steve!).

All in all, we had a great time and look forward to next year’s Pig-a-Palooza.



Recap: Pig-a-palooza 3

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!


Recap: Pig-a-palooza 2011

For the second year in a row I volunteered to smoke the pork butts & ribs for Pig-a-Palooza.  This is the big fund raiser for Jacob’s Ladder, an organization that provides scholarships to school children in our area to enable them pariticpate in music & band programs.  

We planned to cook 20 pork butts and 25 sides of ribs.  Ribs we served in 4-5 bone portions and we served nice big pulled pork sandwiches.  Additionally, we had a large grill to cook hamburgers & hotdogs on.

Friday night, I headed to the park at 10:30pm.  I had the cooker lit by 11:00 and we began rubbing the pork butts shortly after midnight.  We put half of the pork butts on at 1:00am, and the other half went on at 3:00am.  I managed to rack out for a couple of hours around 4:00am, but when you’re sleeping outside and it’s 90 degree weather you don’t sleep much.

We began pulling the membranes and trimming the baby back ribs at 9:30am.  We staggered the start times of 27 sides of ribs.  This allowed us to keep a steady stream of fresh ribs coming off the cooker throughout the afternoon.

There were lots of activities for the kids, music, and silent & oral auction items.  We had a great turnout despite a heat index of well over 100 degrees.

By the end of the day, we sold all of the BBQ that we had prepared.  I had great help from my friends and neighbors.  I can’t thank them enough for volunteering to help prepare and serve the food.  As I write this, I’m still pretty tired from working more than 20 hrs straight.  But I’m sure that I’ll be ready to do it again next year.

Here’s a link to a few more photos from Pig-a-Palooza 2011


Update: Pig-a-palooza 2010

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I volunteered to help with the cooking at a local fund raiser.  The main course was to be a whole hog, but there were also plenty of pork butts & ribs to cook too.

We convened on the cooking site at 3:00pm on Friday and began preparing the rotissiere/spit that we would use to cook the hog.  Now, I’d never done a whole hog before but one of the volunteers was experienced with the process so he took the lead.

We prepped the hog, got it mounted on the spit, and had the first coals under the 159 lb. guest of honor shortly before 6:00pm.  We had a large trailer-mounted pit that we used for the ongoing process of lighting fresh coals and readying them for shoveling under the spit.

We decided that we’d use my Backwoods Fatboy to cook the butts and ribs.  We picked up my cooker and had 12 boneless pork butts (~60 lbs.) on by 9:00pm.  That would allow us to get the butts done and the ribs started early in the morning and hopefully have things finishing up by the noon serving time.

It was all revelry and good times early on, but slowly the observers drifted off to their homes for a comfortable night’s rest as the night wore on.  By 1:00am we were down to three guys who were committed to the process and whatever outcome morning would bring.  We had one close call around that same time.  We hadn’t anticipated that the hog would shrink as much as it did, and we had to readjust the clamps that held it on the spit to keep it from flopping around and coming apart.

The hog finished up around 7:00am, about the same time that we began taking pork butts off of the Fatboy and started putting the ribs on.  We had the hog picked by 8:00 or so.  We kept it in pans on the pit we used for charcoal starting and waited for lunchtime.

Once we pulled the pork butts and began to serve lunch, it became clear to us that the pulled pork butts were much tastier than the whole hog.  Over the course of the afternoon, we served all the pulled pork and the ribs.  We only served about half of the pickings from the whole hog.

So here are a couple of observations about my first time doing a whole hog.

  • I don’t care for it.  There’s so much of it and no real good way to season it, so it ends up tasting mosly like pork roast.
  • I think we cooked it too fast early on.  The pit that we rented for the event had no thermometer, so we were cooking by feel.  I think we should have started at a lower temp.
  • Doing a whole hog is really all about the process and presentation.  For pure eating pleasure, I think the pulled pork and ribs were much better.

After tending the pits for 23 straight hours, I’m beat.  But I do feel a sense of satisfaction and pride when I see folks’ reaction to our efforts.

Additionally, we helped a great cause.  I hope the whole event was successful enough to warrant doing it again next year, cause I had a blast.