Buster Dog BBQ claims championship at annual event

The best and biggest Ribs, Rods & Rock 'n Roll celebration in Vermillion ended Saturday with Buster Dog BBQ of Clive, IA receiving the grand champion trophy for this year's barbecue competition.

Making this honor even sweeter for the Iowa team is the fact that its decision to come to Vermillion's competition was almost made at the last minute. And even with the proper amount of planning, Buster Dog BBQ had to overcome a few obstacles just to get to Vermillion.

Buster Dog BBQ is a family operation comprised of Rod, Dawn and David Anderson of Clive, IA.  The family's two dogs, Buster and Casey, tag along as the cleanup crew and inspired the name of the Anderson's barbecue venture.

According to Rod, "We started competition barbecue in April 2007 and haven't looked back."

Rod writes in a blog on his barbecue team's Web site that Ribs, Rods & Rock 'n Roll wasn't an event on the team's itinerary for this summer. That all changed, however, when Buster Dog BBQ finished third in a contest held in late July.

"Dawn and I knew we were close to winning and needed another contest to give it a shot," Rod said.

The Andersons' son, David, had a football game Thursday night, and Rod planned to drive the family's trailer to Vermillion's competition after the game.

Problems soon arose shortly after 9 p.m. Thursday as Rod prepared to leave on the long drive to Vermillion.

Her was planning to arrive in Vermillion between midnight and 1 a.m. Friday morning. All of that changed when he discovered his trailer had a flat tire. A local truck stop near the Anderson home was open until midnight, and Rod got there 15 minutes before it closed. Five minutes later, the tire was fixed, and despite being way behind schedule, Rod decided to press on and make the trip to Vermillion.

After pulling in at a truck stop at 4 a.m. for catnap, Rod eventually arrived in Vermillion. "Getting into our spot and setup (in Vermillion) was very smooth," he wrote. "The drama was over."

Friday was not nearly as stressful for Rod as he awaited the eventual arrival of his wife, Dawn and son, David.

"Despite the band playing till 1 a.m. on the next block over," Rod wrote, "we really didn't hear them or were just so tired we slept right through it."

On Saturday, Buster Dog BBQ along with other 41 other competitors took part in the Kansas City Barbecue Society (KCBS)-sanctioned South Dakota State BBQ Championship in Vermillion.

KCBS sanctions and judges BBQ competitions across the U.S. and promotes barbeque as America's cuisine. It is the largest society of barbeque enthusiasts in the world. The organization provides the most respected form of judging and scoring in the world of BBQ. KCBS provides a representative for each contest and an appropriate number of certified BBQ judges who have been trained in how to judge world-class barbeque, all while using a blind judging process that is fair and void of personal knowledge of teams being judged.

The Kansas City Barbecue Society sanctions nearly 300 events across the country, and sanctions contests in 44 states. KCBS judges are trained in a manner that allows them to appropriately judge all types of barbeque, from St. Louis and Texas styles to Memphis and Carolina styles

KCBS conducts official competitions at each event in the following categories: chicken, ribs, pork and brisket. Judges evaluate barbecue in three different criteria: taste, appearance and texture.

Rod reports on his blog that everything went as expected during Saturday's competition, but he did have some problems getting his chicken barbecued to his satisfaction.

At 4 p.m. Saturday, when winners of the different categories were announced, Rod was sure that he had no chance of winning anything in the chicken category.

"I was shocked when we got the first place chicken call," he wrote. "Then on to ribs where we hadn't scored well all year. I thought they were a little too fall off the bone," he wrote.

Buster Dog BBQ received fifth place in the ribs category, and seventh place in the pork competition.

"Only brisket was left. Our worse category," he wrote. We placed ninth in brisket. And if you know BBQ scoring, you can win and not get any top 10s.  Everyone around us is telling us we're going to win. I will believe it when I hear it. I thought the same for some friends of mine at another contest only to see them get third. 

"I grabbed Dawn's hand as they were reading the overall top 10. All I can remember is saying, 'I don't want to hear my name, I don't want to hear my name called.' It was down to Parrothead Smokers and us. 'Please call Parrothead,' I said. 

Jody Harnois announced that Parrothead Smokers was the event's reserve grand champion.

"Then he announced the grand champion. Buster Dog BBQ. I jumped out of my chair high enough to get air between my feet and the ground.  It was such a surreal moment," Rod wrote. "We were up there in front of everything getting this big check, a huge (and heavy) trophy and photos for the town papers. I really don't remember a whole lot. Reporters were talking to us; friends and other teams were congratulating us.  It was unreal. Our first championship."

Read all of the Rod's blog by logging on to Buster Dog BBQ's Web site, www.busterdogbbq.com.

For a complete listing of the results of the 2009 South Dakota State BBQ Championship, log on to www.sdbbqchampionship.com.

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