Queen Creek BBQ Cook-Off Re-cap
Saturday, October 16th, was a beautiful day in Arizona. The air was cool and a bit breezy, what a perfect day for a food festival with the family! My kids and I, as well as 3,000 plus valley residents, headed out to the Inaugural Queen Creek BBQ Cook-Off. The Cook-Off was sanctioned by the Kansas City BBQ Society and had over 40 teams competing. My 5 year old was terribly excited as we had talked the previous night about all that he could expect. He is a huge fan of BBQ, ribs especially, and was excited to eat as well as try out the KidsZone.
Upon arrival we were greeted by some lovely ladies in purple (the event benefited the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network) and given our wristbands and tasting tickets. We got there just after opening so there wasn’t a huge line or crowd at that point. We heard the National Anthem being sung right after walking past the check in point, which was a really nice welcome.
Of course, my son wanted to rush to the KidsZone immediately, but I convinced him to walk around the grounds just once and then we would head there. Begrudgingly, he conceded.
There were so many trucks and trailers set up. No food was set up on the tables just yet, but you could see the smoke and smell the spicy goodness in the air. Aiden was thrilled with the set up. Each tent we walked by he found something more amazing than at the table before. Each contestant had carefully decorated set ups. Some were riddled with plush pigs, some decked out for Halloween and my son’s personal favorite had a hockey theme. I became excited, just by scoping out the empty tables, for the tasting that would come later.
After a quick walk around the grounds, we headed to the KidsZone, which was provided by Arizona Inflatable Events. There were a lot of fun things for my son to do. Multiple bounce houses, a rock climbing wall and ponies to ride. And we tried them all out. My son’s favorite at this point was the big bounce slide. Having the multiple bounce “stations” was genius. It not only gave springy variety, but also ensured that no one house would be terribly overcrowded.
We tried out the rock wall next and I wish I had more to say, but as soon as my son was suited up and led to the wall he froze. I did, however, learn that he has a slight fear of heights. The other children that we saw on the wall appeared to be having a great time, finding their way to the top and then sounding the alarm.
We finished up the KidZone area with a pony ride. There were three ponies for riding and Aiden thought that was a pretty cool thing. This was the closest he has ever been to any sort of horse and he was fascinated and thoroughly enjoyed his ride.
All of the Helpers in the KidZone were very friendly and helpful. Obviously this was a big hit with my older son, and the baby had a great time just watching all the people.
Next we headed through the craft vendor tents. There were purses, Gold Canyon candles, sparkly little girl outfits by CC Rags, Silpada jewelry, Build-A-Bear Workshop, Splash Designs as well as some food stations. My son asked for a shaved ice and I obliged. At Aspen Shaved Ice there was a station set up with 6 different flavors that kids (or adults) could apply to their ice themselves. Of course, my son had to have every single flavor! It looked a bit rough but he had nothing but good things to say.
We took this opportunity to head to the event center. We had been hearing singing and announcements of dance performances. On the way, my attention was drawn to a Frozen Cheesecake vendor. How, oh how, could I say no.
I got my cheesecake on a stick and we headed to the performance center. We saw the Cinderella Girls perform while we noshed on our treats. The Cinderella girls were there in support of their State Director who happens to be battling Pancreatic Cancer for the second time. What a talented and dedicated group of girls! The Cinderella Girls were followed throughout the day by Tridon, Wild Heart (from California), the Queen Creek High School Orchestra and Dance Connection Too Dynamite Express Dance Team. It was a comfortable area to enjoy some local delightful entertainment. They also had a beer tent in this area – for the adults not wanting a shaved ice or lemonade!
After the girls took a break, my son spied the mechanical bull. I held my breath and led him to it, grateful for the inflated area surrounding the bull where he would inevitably fall. Once atop the bull, the technician started it slowly, and the look on my sons face was priceless. This by far was his favorite feature of the entire event and he still is talking about it – telling anyone that will listen.
By now, we could smell that the food was ready. We had walked by the judging tent and saw that the tasting was in full swing. We headed back through the grounds to find the tents that had grabbed my son’s eye. First stop was SlapShot BBQ where we received a delectable smoked rib. My son was so excited, as much as he loves bbq’d ribs, his ultimate favorite is smoked ribs. We shared our rib and I found it to be very tender, barely attached to the bone. Aiden said it was great and wanted more.
Next was Big Daddy’s BBQ. Here we were served BBQ’s ribs as well as chicken. While both were perfectly prepared the hands down winner in my book was the chicken. It was so incredibly tender, juicy and flavorful – my only complaint was that my portion was so small!
All of the vendors that we spoke with were very friendly and genuinely excited to be there. It was nice to be able to talk with them about their food as well as their participation in the Cook-Off. The only thing that could have made the event better would have been a map or list of the competitors and what they were serving. That being said, we did enjoy walking from table to table and learning first hand about the teams.
All in all, this was a really fun day for the family. A great opportunity to enjoy the best time of year in Arizona, weather wise, taste some amazing local barbeque and support a great cause.
For more information about or to make a donation to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network visit: pancan.org
Grand Champion: Otis & the Bird
Reserve Champion: Smoked to the Bone
1. Otis & the Bird
2. Smoked to the Bone
3. Big Poppa Smokers
4. Slap Yo Daddy BBQ
5. Rhythm N’ Que
1. Slap Yo Daddy BBQ
2. Otis & the Bird
3. Smoke’n Phoenicians
4. BBQ Magic
5. Sloppy Dad’s Q Crew
1. BBQ Magic
2. BBQ Castaways
3. Loot N’ Booty BBQ
4. Otis & the Bird
5. Smoked to the Bone
1. Big Poppa Smokers
2. Whiskey ranch BBQ
3. Smoked to the Bone
4. Loot N’ Booty BBQ
5. Slap Yo Daddy BBQ
1. Rhythm N’ Que
2. McFrankenboo BBQ
3. Happy Town
4. I.A.B. 30 BBQ
5. Smoked to the Bone
More photos of the event: