Academy of Country Music (ACM) BBQ Throwdown, Las Vegas, Nevada

Over a hundred BBQ teams from 21 states, England, and Canada descended upon the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada on March 30 & 31, 2012 for the ACM BBQ Throwdown which is part of the THE ACM EXPERIENCE, the Academy of Country Music’s inaugural country lifestyle series of events.  Ron Cates of Smoke on the Water Productions got the attention of the world’s best teams with $50,000 total prize money and the ACM BBQ Throwdown title sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbeque Society.

Excitement was high when teams arrived by 6 pm Thursday to set up for this mega event.   In addition to the BBQ contest, the nation’s top BBQ vendors would be selling their famous barbecue and some of the brightest stars in country music performed at the stage beside the BBQ teams.

Lots of food vendors!

Miller / Coors Stage beside the BBQ contest area

Top Country Stars at the ACM

There was lots to do as the contest was coupled with the Fan Jam (part of the 47th ACM Awards), ACM EXPO (outdoor living & country expo), rib eating championship, Jack Daniel’s Experience, and the Sin City Rib Throwdown.  All this was on top of the casino gaming and live shows that only Las Vegas can deliver!

My buddy Chris Juencke in the celebrity BBQ cookoff where pitmasters were paired with a celebrity

Teams were invited to a Hooters VIP poolside party on Thursday evening and the Mandalay Bay VIP party on Friday

Hooter Girls and their mascot Hootie the Owl

It was great to have an extra day to socialize and catch up with friends and fellow pitmasters from all over the country. Thanks to the many who stopped by with food including breakfast burritos from AZ BBQ, hot links from Big O BBQ, and Tracy from Woodhouse BBQ who brought breakfast waffles with gold plated pistachios.  Who says pitmasters don’t eat well!

Pistachio powder waffles with gold plated pistachios

Cook Extraordinaire Tracy from Woodhouse BBQ

SYD also participated in the Reeses Potato Salad contest and finished 4th among 45 entries.

SYD Potato Salad Entry

SYD potato salad cook Jeff Hutcherson

During the awards ceremony, of the 111 teams, SYD only got two top-20 calls: 1st chicken (179.4286) and 3rd brisket (170.2856).    Numerous teams received three and four top-20 calls so when the top 10 were announced, it didn’t enter my mind that SYD was in the running to win this contest.  I was amazed when SYD was called for the Grand Champion!  SYD was one of the four California teams (Left Coast Q, Cecil’s Smok’n BBQ, All Hogs Go To Heaven) who finished in the top-10.

When I read the KCBS score sheet, I found out that SYD won GC by a razor thin 0.0004 (four ten-thousandth) over the RC team Lucky’s Q from Iowa (673.1430 versus 673.1426).   Wow!  What an amazing finish for SYD who had two calls with Lucky’s Q having four calls!

A big congrats goes out to all the teams who walked.  A big Thank You goes out to Bull BBQ Products and Sam’s Club for sponsoring the event, the KCBS reps (Kelly & Kathleen MacIntosh, Randy & Carol Bigler), Cates Family, judges, Mandalay hosts, and helpers.   Teams were told to stay on the lookout for a $125K contest in Laughlin, NV in November!  A big thank you goes out to our sponsors Impact Canopies for our fabulous color canopies, Cajun Bandit for their aftermarket Weber products, and Rocks BBQ for their Stoker pit control systems.