Despite the torrent of rain that fell a week ago Saturday I made my way to Mt. Pleasant, Texas, for the Smoky-Eyed BBQ Cookoff thanks to some gentle chiding by my neighbor Phil.
“Are you afraid of getting wet?” he asked after I expressed some doubt about attending a BBQ cookoff in the rain.
My first thought was to deny it.
My second was to admit it.
Well, yes, I said. The words stumbled out.
Yes, I am. I was a bit bolder on the second affirmation as I pictured myself totally drenched matched by a plate of equally soggy BBQ.
But there were reasons to go.
Phil was anxious to attend for reconnoiter purposes; he wanted to scope out a competition before he takes his first crack at being a contestant. And I didn’t want to miss out on a chance for all-you-can-eat BBQ .
I came around to the thought that there are worse things in life than getting waterlogged while eating BBQ so Phil’s prodding won out.
Two hours later, Phil, his wife, Marje, my friend Lloyd, and I arrived at the Mt. Pleasant Civic Center, a roofed, open-air facility with a sawdust covered dirt floor that had been transformed into a BBQ bonanza.
With Styrofoam plate, fork, knife, and napkin in hand we entered the fray.
I was grateful for the roof over our heads as we enjoyed our first round of BBQ because the light, very pleasant sprinkle of rain that had greeted us upon arrival and had lulled us into thinking that the worst of the rain was over turned into buckets.
And then I faced a dilemma.
At least half of the contestant booths were in an adjacent, uncovered field. A true sampling of the Smoky-Eyed BBQ cook-off would require that I venture from the cocoon of the covered pavilion.
The rain slowed for a moment. I took this as a sign to grab my umbrella and venture out.
But that which had beckoned me from my covering returned with a vengeance and it rained even harder than it had before.
Although I’ve spent my fair share of time this spring working to rid my yard of weeds the old-fashioned way, one weed at a time, lovingly tugged on till it gives up its grip on my soil, I was very thankful that someone had let them run amok in this Mt. Pleasant field prior to this very rainy day.
Clumps of weeds provided me with natural stepping-stones in the man-made lake that was forming between the open-field booths.
I returned to the pavilion only when my plate could bear no more of its brisket burden, leaping across what was now a small river between the field and the asphalt driveway.
There were 52 brisket contenders in this contest and I intended to taste them all.
When I added a pinch of potato salad here and a bit of pinto beans there, along with a rib or two, to my taste of brisket it was too much.
My stomach begged for mercy long before I had tasted half of the briskets.
It was somewhere in this round of tasting from the water-logged field that I thought I had hit upon the winner. I’ll never know though because I have no idea from whom I received the sample and we left before they announced the winner.
No worries. It was a mission-accomplished kind of day.
I had all the BBQ I could eat (and then some) and Phil got to experience his first BBQ cook off from the easy side of the smoker.
The torrent of rain continued as we left, but I had one more item to tick off my list before departing from this small East Texas town. I made my way back to Bodacious BBQ, my original stopping point for BBQ a couple of weeks prior.
The power was out as the rain had caused an outage at Bodacious and the surrounding area, but I managed to find and buy two more rounds of the best peanut brittle around. They calculated the sale with a hand-held calculator and we were on our way.