The Finale–The National BBQ Cup

After a week off, Luke and Kim loaded up the truck and headed south one more time…for one more contest…and their first foray in Georgia.  They were excited.  A few of their good BBQ buddies had sung the praises of Georgia, saying it was a great experience and a great place to cook.  Another buddy wasn’t as complementary.

“F Georgia,” he had said.

Luke and the Little General sped down Rte 29 after work on Thursday to spend the night with Todd with Smokin’ Buttheads.  Todd treated them to late night libations, great conversation, and a great place to sleep.  They woke up early, hooked up the Ol’ Creeper and headed south to the land of Jimmy Carter and peaches.

They arrived at the Cumming Fairgrounds around 11 a.m. and patiently waited for their place to park.  And waited. And waited.  Finally, the Creeper was situated in a gravel area pretty close to some friends, including Mark from Checkered Flag 500, some Carolina buds with Sauced! and The Smokehouse Mafia, and some new friends.

Kim and Luke would be joined by Rick Hamilton from Hambones By the Fire.  He wanted to come down for the weekend, and the extra help was greatly appreciated.  Once the hurried setup was complete, all the meat was prepped and everything was ready to go.

There were a lot of heavy hitters in the crowd.  Because Cumming was near the end of the season, a lot of the teams were there to try and earn precious KCBS team of the year points.  There were teams from as far as Wisconsin and California.  It was going to be a daunting task.

The best news though was that Jim Burg was in the house for the weekend.  He and Jan were around, and it was great to see our friend, who has been battling for so long, out and about.

For the first time all year, there was a hiccup.  Someone, who shall remain nameless, knocked over one of the BBQ Guru’s, and it wasn’t behaving properly.  Luckily, Bob Trudnak from BBQ Guru was cooking, and had a spare to lend the team.  Luke had also forgot the chicken rub and another ingredient, which luckily he was able to find.  (Thank you 270 Smokers and Checkered Flag 500!)

The cook went pretty good throughout the night and next morning.  Rick fell into rhythm with Luke and Kim, and they didn’t miss a beat. (Mostly cause the Little General was being the Little General.).   There was even some music sharing, which was awesome, and also some productivity hacks learned from Rick…which we now call Rickovations.

We finished everything up and started packing up.  We were gonna beat feet after awards and see how far we could make it.  And we were done an hour before awards…mostly because Rick was an absolute animal.  He crushed the dishes and had the outside torn down before Luke had even touched the smokers.

Rick said his goodbyes and headed back to VA. Afterwards, Kim and Luke decided to visit with some friends before awards.  Darkness started to fall, and the temps began to drop.  On to awards.

OVS started with a chicken call…7th place.   Luke and Kim were thrilled.  Victory Lane got first with a 180 and Smokehouse Mafia also had a 180.  Then ribs…OVS grabbed an 8th.  With two calls, we knew we were in the mix.

Next was pork…and no call.  But Victory Lane got a first in pork.

Things were so tight.  OVS then grabbed a 10th in brisket!  But that was followed by another 180 and 1st place brisket by Smokehouse Mafia!

Luke and Kim were pretty sure they were up there.  Stephanie from 270 Smokers said, “I think you might be RGC.”  We were hopeful.

So they started the top ten overall…10th place- Victory Lane.  Wow.  Two firsts and one of the strongest teams in the country.  10th.  Anything could happen.

They called all of the top five to the stage, and OVS was up there, along with Foggy Bottom BBQ, Will and the Thrills, The Smokehouse Mafia, and Yellow River.

They would go five down.  Will and the Thrills.  Yellow River.  OVS was in the top three.

OVS has had a lot of 3rds.  And they were both hoping they didn’t have another.

3rd place…Foggy Bottom.

Holy crap.  That left Luke and Kim on stage with Andrew, Melissa, and their daughter from The Smokehouse Mafia.  There was lots of hugs and anticipation.  And several other awards to give out before they got to RGC and GC.  So all of em were just up there chatting away like nothing else was going on.

Andrew asked, “How do you think this is gonna go?”

“I dunno man. You have two 180’s.  I think you have it.”

“I don’t know,” Andrew replied.

The emcee then turned around and asked us, “You guys okay?  ”

We told him, “Don’t worry about us.  Do what you gotta do.”

After another award, we finally got to the RGC and GC.  And The Smokehouse Mafia was RGC.

We couldn’t believe it.  The huge wooden cup was coming back to VA.  Huge hugs were shared with everyone we saw.  After loading up the trophy, (thank you John Layton), we decided to spend the night in Georgia and celebrate with our good friends from Checkered Flag 500 and 270 Smokers.

What a fantastic way to end the season.  A huge thank you to Randall Bowman and his crew who put on a fantastic event in Cumming, to BBQ Guru, and to everyone else who helped us along the way.