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Pit Performance Heats up Championship Barbeque

Story by Joe VanDerZanden, photography by David Peterson

Some come alone, others in small packs of two or three. Small talk is kept to a minimum as each reports for duty.

Their gathering is somewhat obscured from the nearby commotion, but the smoky aroma that hangs in the air hints at their mission.

By late morning, when the required number is assembled, they take their seats in folding chairs arranged six to a table.

Cued by officials with proper insignia, these Iowa patriots stand, raise their right hands, and in unison declare their allegiance.

I do solemnly swear to objectively
and subjectively evaluate each
Barbeque meat that is presented . . .

 

 

 

Superheroes

As comic books have taught, lurking in the midst of ordinary citizens are superheroes. They live among the population, unheralded and largely unknown yet ready when duty calls to leap into action — by sitting and eating barbeque for two hours at a pop. 

Each weekend during barbeque season (in Iowa, that’s roughly mid-May to mid-September), a group of exceptional men and women pledge to defend Liberty by means of appraising smoked meat.

. . . so that truth, justice, excellence in Barbeque and the American Way of Life may be strengthened and preserved forever.

Barbeque is a loaded word. Its mention to some induces an immediate Pavlovian salivary response triggered by pleasant memories of a gooey pulled pork sandwich eaten over a paper plate while standing in line to look at the Butter Cow.

For the less fortunate, the utterance may invoke nightmares of crispy, nuggetlike hamburgers tasting of petroleum distillates and sawdust.

(Read more about Feats of Smoke)

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