393: Beltway BBQ Showdown in Fort Washington, MD

No sense in burying the lede — Old Virginia Smoke won its first Grand Championship on a beautiful June Saturday in Prince George’s County, Maryland.

The Beltway BBQ Showdown was held at the Tucker Road Athletic Complex in Fort Washington, MD. Organizer Jonathan Jones created such a team-friendly atmosphere. While folks like us were firing the smokers and getting ready for the competition, members of the public enjoyed live entertainment, a classic car show, and lots of good food and games. Mother Nature blessed all of us with a beautiful hot June day, although it got downright nippy ’bout 4 a.m. on Saturday morning.

Old Virginia Smoke set up camp in the back corner of BBQ Row, between friends Pig Pickers and Jersey Joe’s. We worked Friday to get some new organizing equipment into our trailer (efficiency is sexy). We noshed on burgers and mango salsa. The vibe was relaxed.

It wouldn’t be accurate to say that this was a seamless cook. We got off to a later start than we had planned. We had a Backwoods Gator that took off like a rocket and stayed hotter than necessary for far too long. It also wouldn’t be accurate to say that this was a difficult cook. For example, it was not pouring down buckets of rain. There were no fire drills — literal or metaphorical. For us, it was a typical cook — hitting on all cylinders most of the time and clearing the occasional unexpected hurdle every now and again.

However, it felt . . . different. It felt like we were zeroed in.

Awards were a blast. We got to see all our friends get a shout out, and then we got one with 2nd Place Ribs. After a minor trophy mix-up and switcheroo, we got to hear our names twice more — 8th Place in Pork and 8th Place in Brisket. We got three calls and a walk. We were pretty dang satisfied. It was closing in on Miller Time — especially since Mike Palmer at Southern Maryland Smokers won the MABA Craft Beer Pork Challenge and he was parked sooooooooooo close to us.

Math is a funny thing. Three calls is a great event, but a lot of folks were getting three and four calls. A lot of folks were solid candidates to fight for the top spots. It all boiled down to scoring numbers. Then Jonathan said that Old Virginia Smoke was the Grand Champion, and nobody was thinking about math . . . or scores . . .or cook times . . . or anything. It was time for tears and hugs and kisses and photos and hot damn!

Three hundred and ninety-three (393) days ago, Old Virginia Smoke entered its first KCBS competition — the 2013 BBQ Jamboree in Fredericksburg, VA. Just over a year later, and we have won our first ever Grand Championship.

We could not have done this without the love and support of our friends and family. We would like to give a special shout-out to our sponsors Dizzy Pig and BBQ Guru. To our Kickstarter friends — you have made such a difference in our lives. Thank you Michelle DeBrosse for visiting and helping out with clean up; your presence and your prophetic Facebook posting about “game-changing BBQ” means that you need to be at all of our events now! Thank you all so very much.

Our BBQ Family continues to grow. We love you JD’s Smoking Misfits, Southern Maryland Smokers, Pavone Brothers, 3 Eyz, 420 Q, DeGuello, Aporkaplypse Now, Pig Pickers, Jersey Joes, and Life is Good But BBQ is Better. To our new friend Diva Q — we’ll see you out there on the highways and byways if we’re not too busy chair-dancing!

It’s a whole new world. This ride keeps getting better and better. We’ll see ya at the Peak City Pig Fest in Apex, NC, in a few weeks.