BBQ In the Valley, Jamestown, NY – May 5-6

By Sean Moffatt, Pitmaster of Red Valley BBQ

Rain, wind, threat of snow, thunder and lightning, and 37 minutes of sunshine.  These were the weather conditions the 26 teams got to enjoy at BBQ in the Valley in Jamestown, NY.  While the weather was having an identity crisis and was less than hospitable, the same couldn’t be said for the staff and volunteers at Hidden Valley Campground.  From the moment teams started to arrive until the last team left, the staff helped competitors navigate the muddy fields of the campground in the ever constant rain.  Several teams needed an assist from the resident tractor to get into and out of their spots, but once the teams were settled it was time to get down to business.

Friday evening after the team meeting, the competitors got a chance to get out of the rain for a little while and enjoy a Cinco de Mayo potluck dinner in the pavilion.  The campground staff started things off with a taco bar, and the teams pitched in with items such as an enchilada casserole, 7-layer dip, and taquitos.  Once everyone had a chance to quell their appetites, it was back out into the rain to start cooking.

Night began to fall and the campground staff and volunteers began to make the rounds to check on the team’s general well-being and to make sure no one had lost any small children in the mud caused by what seemed to be a non-stop rain.  And even though the competition was not open to the public, volunteers took turns every two hours to work as overnight security…in the rain.

As night turned to day, surprisingly the rain continued, but it would not last.  The rain finally abated for a few hours to allow the teams to get turn ins completed.  The rain would return just in time to submit a pan of pulled pork for a people’s choice category in which the prize was a winner takes all $1000 check.  Hidden Valley was able to write a check from the proceeds from the people’s choice and a raffle of Cutco knives for $1041 in support of the Camp Good Days program.

Awards were held in the pavilion because, unbelievably, a light rain was falling outside.  After the organizer Bill Woltmann gave props to the competition sponsors, he jumped straight into the award ceremony.  Winners of each category received a laser engraved cutting board while places 10th through 2nd received an engraved spatula.

The first winner announced was the people’s choice champion.  Lo’-n-Slo’ BBQ walked away with the $1000 check and custom engraved cutting board.

The KCBS awards were announced with several teams receiving two or more calls.  Shortsville Smokers received the cutting board in chicken, Lo’-N-Slo’ BBQ won ribs, Christmas City BBQ took honors in pork, and Spittin’ Feathers BBQ earned top spot in brisket with a 180, a feat rarely seen in New York.  At the end of the day, Shortsville Smokers received the Reserve Grand Champion cutting board, and Lo’-N-Slo’ BBQ headed home as Grand Champion.

I usually have some reservations when it comes to a first year contest because many tend to have unforeseen issues and glitches.  As the weekend moved along, there were very few issues even with the rain.  The organizers and volunteers at Hidden Valley were well prepared for the event and KCBS Reps Robert McKee and Louise Weidner were fantastic in their duties.  If this contest was this well run in its first year, I can only imagine how good it will be in the future.  BBQ in the Valley should be on your contest radar for 2018.  No guarantee it won’t rain.