Where there’s smoke there’s Q

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I spend my winter in Florida. I do not lay out on the beach, play golf or have a desire to fracture my bones playing pickleball, I am always looking for something to do, especially if there are photographs involved. A friend of mine, a fellow photographer, was in from Chicago, I told him about the Torrey Island BBQ Showdown, and it was “let’s go.” Torrey Island is near Okeechobee Lake, about 50 miles west of West Palm Beach, think middle of the lower part of South Florida. For Torrey Island and the surrounding community this is a big deal bringing in tourists, and the dollars, from all over the state. Chefs, both backyard and professional, offer up their best in ribs, chicken, brisket and pork for judging. The gentleman pictured below, with his truck - and signage to make sure you don’t miss it, travels to 40 competitions a year. 

My agenda for the day was to take photographs, and as I am about to buy a smoker for my backyard, also tap the knowledge of the experts at the showdown both in selecting a smoker and in refining my cooking skills. Smokers come in all shapes and sizes, from home made to high end professional models. The consensus was to avoid pellet smokers and to go with a mix of charcoal for consistent heat and wood for the smoke flavor. A couple of the pit masters recommended a Masterbuilt smoker, just $300 from Home Depot. They told me it will only last 3 to 4 years but it will work as well as  the egg shaped $3,000 Primo smoker. Replacing it a couple of times, especially at my age will be cost-efficient. 

Handmade from sand filtration device

Vertical cylinder smokers

Their smoker travels with their RV

Traditional commercial smokers by Southern-Yankee Co.

Masterbuilt $300 smoker

The sponsors of the BBQ Showdown, planned a family friendly event with a few extra attractions. There was the airboat show. I confessed to one of the exhibitors, when I saw  the 4-cylinder engine on his, that I knew nothing about airboats. He told me that it was a racing engine. I knew from movies these things were fast on the water, I had no idea they raced them. 

Custom airboat builders

Group display

Palm Beach County Rescue

Dapper Design

Axe throwing fascinated me, although I have no idea of the practical application of this skill.  I did learn by watching this man that it isn’t easy to land the axe. He bounced 4 out of 5 off the target.  

Learning how to throw an axe

There was a variety of vendors selling everything from costume jewelry to coolers to BBQ sauce, I picked up some savory and sweet version of KC sauce while I was there. Volleyball & corn hole tournaments attracted crowds and live music, everything from rock to country, kept the mood perfect for this kind of festival.

laissez-faire marketing

Fashionable accessories

Before leaving the grounds, I picked up a couple of racks of ribs and sides for dinner. This little 3-years old cutie was helping her Mom & Dad. She muttered something about chicken and then Chuckie Cheese, it was sort of cryptic to me. This is absolutely my favorite people photo of the year so far. This is one of those photos that reveals Easter eggs every time you view it. 

Writing this has made me hungry, ah yes, I have a few ribs left over from last nights dinner. Time to hit up the leftovers. 

Just enough for Sunday lunch.  Yum. 

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