Bangalow BBQ Festival
Marking the end of the BBQ season in the northern states, the Bangalow BBQ and Bluegrass Festival was a fitting end to what’s been a great season of BBQ shenanigans, providing sunshine, good music, great food, and family-friendly fun for all ages. Best of all, a whole lot of money was raised for local schools in the Bangalow region, and a whole lot of people had a whole lot of fun.
Having recently become a BBQ judge and having had the opportunity to flex these skills at the Brisbane ‘Low and Slow’ BBQ Festival, I was delighted to be asked by Adam from the Australasian BBQ Alliance to be an Assistant Head Judge. And so it was that my Dad and I jumped in the car early on the Saturday morning of the competition and headed south to Bangalow.
The first thing that struck me was the beauty of the location. The showground was nestled in a small, green valley on the edge of town. We arrived at nearly 8am in the morning and it was brisk, to say the least with a mix of fog and wood smoke drifting across the field, promising delicious adventures to come throughout the day. A quick chat with some of the competitors revealed that it had been a near-freezing 5 degrees Celsius overnight. And I’d been complaining about how cold it had been at the Burleigh BBQ Competition!
I was fortunate enough to be able to use this quiet time to catch up with JR from JR’s Smokehouse who gave me a guided tour of his mobile smoker. If you don’t know what an automated smoker looks like, track down JR, buy some ribs and stick around when he opens it up to work his alchemy: it’s amazing in so many ways!
Once the judge’s training course was over and my Dad was now fully qualified to pass judgement on all forms of cooking, BBQ and otherwise, it was time for me to get on with being all official and stuff. My comrades and I set up the judge’s pavilion and waited for the competition to begin.
It wasn’t long before the boxes started flowing and the fun really began. Not that it wasn’t tricky: we’d had some contentious complications but they were handled expertly by Adam and they show went on.
Yet again, I was impressed, and somewhat intimidated, by the quality of the boxes being presented to the judges. I saw all different takes on low’n’slow cooking with various combinations of spices and sauces combining to create a dazzling myriad of visual contrasts and fragrances. I was particularly lucky to get an insight into different decorative ideas for comp boxes: something that has been lacking in my own competitive endeavours.
There were some familiar faces at the competition including The Meat Sweats, TexAus BBQ, BLVD, Bully BBQ and Fifty Shades of Pork, but the real stars of the show would have to be the one-of-a-kind trophies hand-made by Robert and his team at Radar Hill Smokers. And they went to some very deserving homes: The Meat Sweats picked up overall 3rd, The Smoking Jackets scored second overall, and Grand Champion was BLVD. There were many envious eyes as they were handed the 1:10 scale model of a Radar Hill Smoker which was the grand prize trophy. The full results are available on the ABA website.
It was inspiring to see the contribution that competitive BBQ’ing can make to charity events such as these and it is gratifying to know that all the hard work of the BBQ teams has contributed to schools getting funding that they desperately need. My hat is off to all competitors and contributors and I look forward to entering my team in this family-friendly event which helps so many in our communities.
I’ll leave you to enjoy some more pics from this great day. What events are in your calendar for next year? Let me know in the comments below.