Improvisation: 3rd Annual Shenandoah Valley BBQ Fest!

Autumnfest is a great way to celebrate the approaching fall season in the Shenandoah Valley. The leaves on the trees are changing, and the forest is filled with ambers, golds, reds, and dusty greens. The clouds hang low over the mountains. Off in the distance, a few hot air balloons add a bit of whimsy to the skyline. It’ almost as if one could not ask for a better setting. Almost. It gets damn cold at 4 a.m. on a Saturday morning, even if you are huddled around an improvised fire pit made from bottom of a Weber Smoky Mountain.

Pitmaster Luke shouldered the set-up solo again, as Kim and Leigh Anne arrived on Fridayafternoon and evening, respectively. Forty teams circled the oval track of the Woodstock fairgrounds, and many of our new friends from this season were there. Most of us were closing the season.

Team Old Virginia Smoke would like to introduce our newest addition. A few weeks ago, we purchased a Backwoods Gator from our neighbors from the Richmond Recovery Fest cook. She’s the big dog on our porch, with real estate and heat output to spare. Of course, we brought our Backwoods Party, “Mountain Mama II,” and our original WSM gangsta, the Grillenium Falcon.


Having more than exceeded expectations with this first season, our team approach to this final comp was to stretch our wings and try a few new things. In addition to breaking in our Gator, we mixed some things up with our meat supplier, rubs, and sauces. We put some new steps in our timeline. While ribs remain an area for focused concentration during the off-season, this approach worked well for the three other meats. Our chicken process produced some amazingly succulent, flavorful thighs no matter what the immoral ingrates at table 5 said. Do not get us started on table 5. We are locked down and lasered in on pork and brisket. All in all, it is a nice way to tie up an inaugural season of competition BBQ. We were able to secure a 10th place overall, with a 9th place brisket. Third top 10 in a row.

We’d like to thank Uncle Dave with Pavone Brothers for driving down with us, and in general being there for pretty much anything we need. Such as coffee whilst freezing to death. As always, much love to JD’s Smokin Misfits, Hog-It-Up, Southern Maryland Smokers, Makin’ Bacon, Peppermonkey BBQ, Grand Slam BBQ, and Checkered Flag 500 for being great friends. It was great to meet Ash Kickers and That Guy BBQ. A special thanks to Kit Rudd from DeGuello BBQ for lending us a few secret ingredients when it turned out our larder was a little low. And congrats to Kit on the GC! But damn, that trophy was straight up creepy. El chupacabre.

See you ‘round the circuit next year, y’all.