On Saturday, June 28, 2014, we took a leisurely drive from Orange County along the familiar route we take when heading out to Las Vegas. Victorville is located north of the Cajon Pass in San Bernardino County. It is High Desert Country, situated in the Southwestern edge of the Mojave Desert with high temperatures to boast.
As we pulled into the parking lot of the High Desert Event Center (formerly known as Victorville Fairgrounds), temperatures soared close to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. We decided to wait in the air conditioned car until the gates opened for the High Desert Music Festival & BBQ Showdown and until the line of music and BBQ fans died down in the high noon sunshine. Once we opened the car doors, the aroma of smoked barbeque meat permeated the air. As we entered the BBQ Village, you could see all of the Teams working their magic as the Kansas City BBQ Society sanctioned competition was well underway. Teams had timetables to turn in their chicken, pulled pork, brisket, and ribs. Unfortunately, nothing would be served to the public until after 2pm so that the teams could concentrate completely on their entries. There were a few outside vendors that were selling food which was a good thing.
Heavenly Delights with their tagline “What all cobblers want to be when they grow up” gave out samples of their pipin’ hot cobblers. We sampled the Peach Delight with Pecans. It was definitely pipin’ hot and right out of the oven. The peaches were baked perfectly so they were not too mushy and held a familiar peach texture so you knew what kind of fruit was being used. It had just the right amount of sweetness. The pecans added a crunchy texture to the mix. I can imagine that it tasted really good with a scoop vanilla ice cream on top.
Pig on a Twig amped up our appetite with fresh smoked turkey legs. All the barbeque competitors’ smoking & grilling made us crave meat and a turkey leg was the closest we could get to it. The skin was smoky and crispy. The meat was tender and had an excellent smoky flavor. The turkey had a great amount of flavor so I assume it was marinated or brined before smoking and cooking. It definitely hit the spot for lunch!
Lemonade Shakers also helped with the heat of the day with flavored lemonade and iced teas. They had a great deal that if you kept your cup, you would save $2 on refills. It was well worth it as we drank 6 between the two of us. The lemonade was fresh lemon juice squeezed, shaken with the lemon peels, sugar, ice, and your choice of flavor: plain, cherry, mango, or strawberry. They were fantastic! It would have been great to have a sugar-free option of Splenda or stevia as an alternative.
After feeding our appetite, we walked over to the Car & Bike Show presented by All N All Car Club (SoCal Chapter). Atomic Orange Metallic Corvette, 1938 Chevrolet Master 4-Door Touring Sedan, and tricked out kitted roadster (straight out of a ZZ Top video) were among the cars on display. I thought to myself, “My Camaro would have made great addition.”
Uncle Tim’s Best West Barbecue Sauce gave out samples of their line of barbecue sauces. Depending on your spicy level, there is Mild, Medium, and Habañero. The Habañero was actually not all that spicy, but you did feel the heat in the back of your throat after eating. But it was not uncomfortable so you could actually taste the flavor of the habañero pepper which goes really nice with the barbecue sauce itself. We actually got to meet Uncle Tim and he’s great guy who loves BBQ. What a better place to be than at a BBQ Showdown!
At 2pm, we started our sampling of BBQ that some of the competitors were giving out. All samples were given out with tickets purchased at the gate at $2 each. The first place we tried was Real Texas Style BBQ showcasing their pork ribs. The ribs had an excellent bark on the outside with beautiful dark pink smoked meat. The ribs were a little on the dry side, but flavorful. I’m not sure how they scored as “Real Texas Style BBQ” was not their competition name.
Tropical Heat BBQ from Ventura County, CA entered all of the competition categories. We tried their brisket and requested the fatty end. The outside had a caramelized bark. The meat had a thick, dark pink smoke ring and was succulently tender. The marbling of this cut helped to keep it tender and juicy throughout the cooking process. They came in #13 out of 29 competitors with a score of 162.8228 in the brisket category.
Master of Disaster “A Completely Unprofessional BBQ Team” from Santa Ana, CA provided samples of their pulled pork. It tasted more like carnitas with a little bit of smoky flavor. I’m not sure if they entered this into the competition unless they had a different competition name. They were also selling a bunch of different BBQ plates for pretty good prices.
We decided to hide out in the shade for a while to check out the music festival. Tessie and the Calico Cats from Victorville, CA got our toes tapping to some classic country music. Tessie’s father, Frankie Flash, is an awesome harmonica player and also won The Gong Show in 1988 (the show came back from hiatus from 1976-1978). Their music whisked us back to days of Dale Evans and Roy Rogers. Imagine yourself on a horse in cowboy attire with Dale and Roy singing on either side of you.
The 3Diamonds, Supreme’s Motown Review, were absolutely fantastic! Jayda Oliver, lead singer, sounds exactly like Diana Ross with her jazz, blues, and gospel style from New Orleans, LA. Julie is the alto voice of the trio and Sheri is the soprano. Together, they are entertaining and just rocked the house as attendee sang along and grooved to the music. “Baby Love”d their dazzling purple dresses as well!
60 Grit Blues Band captivated the audience with powerhouse vocals of Brian Haringa. Bluesy yet energetic – imagine if George Thorogood, BB King, and ZZ Topp merged into one band. This is exactly what they would sound like. Great exciting yet relaxed music to keep your mind off the desert heat.
Finally, the event we were waiting for arrived, the presentation of the BBQ Winners. In the Chicken category, Funtime BBQ won 1st place, Porketeers in 2nd, and Zzyzx BBQ in 3rd. In the Pork Ribs category, Sin City Smokers won 1st place, Big Poppa Smokers in 2nd, and Cool Grilling in 3rd. In the Pork category, Simply Marvelous BBQ won 1st place, Stoke to Smoke in 2nd, and Tropical Heat BBQ in 3rd. In the Brisket catgory, Porketeers won 1st place, All Hogs Sauced Up in 2nd, and Wild Willy’s Smokin Hot BBQ in 3rd. Overall Champion was Porketeers with a score of 703.4516.
We had a couple of BBQ tickets left and Stubb’s was the only one left with barbeque to sample. We tried their Pork Fingers and Pulled Pork. The Pork Fingers were pork sausage wrapped in bacon. They were a little dry, but the Hickory Bourbon barbeque sauce cured that problem really quickly. The barbeque sauce picked up the caramelized brown sugar on the sausage and made it mighty tasty. The Pulled Pork was okay. I could have been a little bit juicer and more tender. The hubby liked the pork with the Smoky Mesquite sauce.
Even with the high desert heat, this was a fun day of BBQ, music, and cars. Can’t wait to go again next year!