How to Prepare for the Sm⍥kathon

Smokathon VSo, you’ve finally make the big decision to attend the annual rib event but you are a bit cloudy about what actually occurs. No worries, here’s a handy look at the day.

The cooks start on the day before performing their magic on slabs of rib cages picked up from some local butchery. In the past we have tried to have everyone use the same meat, not so much for statistical reasons as to take advantage of a sale at Cub or Rainbow Foods (R.I.P). This year we have returned to the “buy what you will” process. You can expect your ribs to have been picked up at everything from meat markets to Costco. Many ribs will be brined, some will be sans-membrane, most will be rubbed or marinated overnight, none will be pretentious.

celebSometime around noon on the day before the event we will start the process of inviting celebrities. This year we had hopes of Katy Perry showing up to entertain the kids but alas she was in town at Skateville just a couple days earlier. We have had high hopes of celebrity attendance every year but have found that they are often committed to other things by the time we can get ahold of them. Even our one nearly-celebrity judge will be performing at the Belagio on Sunday. I think his rhythm section is made up of the line of slot machines next to him.

TalkBigsmokerYour part comes in somewhere between three-ish and five in the afternoon. That’s when the group gathers for chat before the feed. Bring along a dish to pass and some beverage to toss on ice and relax in the backyard. The smokers will be smoking’ away and the cooks will have their serious faces on as they worry that their ribs will finish early or not finish by the 5:00 serving time. Chances are good that a keg of Summit will be in attendance for awhile.

line-o-ribs tray-o-ribsAt 5:00 the feeding begins. If you are one of the seven judges (7 cooks x 1 judge each) you approach the anonymous trays. Using some scientific process you carefully appraise each rib and complete a scoresheet- rating the ribs on a variety of characteristics. We initiated the selected-judges process as the numbers of participants rose over the years. Note that our Chili-Fest event in winter has all attendees judge using the full sheet.

pile-o-ribsIf you are not one of “those” judges you attack the big piles of ribs and sides and complete a popular vote sheet after you have had a chance to napkin up a bit. We’ll mark the ribs that we consider having quite a bit of heat for those making up plates for young children. Otherwise it’s a bit of a free-for-all. You’ll know which cooks the eating public knows as they point at the piles trying to figure out which one was made by their friend. Have fun, hopefully you’ll have a couple types of ribs that give you a new taste experience. Although there are prizes the real benefit of the day is time well-spent with friends. We’ll be sure to give you a hearty thank you during the awards, if not often during the afternoon.


At the end of it all the votes are totaled and the yearly trophy is handed out. This year’s trophy is an amazing WWF-style belt. Admire it during the afternoon and cheer the winner!




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.