“Barbecue may not be the road to world peace but it’s a start.”-Anthony Bourdain

Greetings from Uncle Tom’s Corner. Suffice it to say that after the last issue and Uncle Tom’s averring dedication to his beloved Cornhuskers Uncle Tom is still emotionally and psychologically beaten and bruised from the outcome of the CU-Nebraska football game. At this point I should ask if you’re familiar with Jim Gaffigan…the comedian. As part of his act he frequently refers to himself in the third person. He does it for comedic relief. Maybe I’m doing for a different relief…because I’m still in denial about the whole thing…let “the other guy” suffer the bruised ego.

Fortunately, as part of my recovery process, I had a barbecue contest or two to attend. The first was Smoke & Soul Fest in Casper, WY on Sept. 14th. There’s just nothing like hitting the open road for a few hours with a fully-loaded iPod of road trip music to enhance one’s self-prescribed therapy. The general consensus is that Wyoming is as boring as Eastern Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa and the rest of the Plains State in terms of the terrain. Nothing could be further from the truth…it’s constantly changing from Badlands to an inland sea to rolling hills. Now, if they could just do something about the accursed wind.

The contest itself is held in the area surrounding the Yellowstone Garage. The Yellowstone Garage is a former car dealership that the current owner originally purchased as his Man Cave/storage facility for his car collection. Instead, he cleaned it all up, made it into an American diner and has lined the walls with vintage car stuff including a picture of the place in its original state as a Ford Edsel dealership. His wife and co-owner was more than happy to share the origins of the establishment with me…right up to the point that I inquired about her She-Shed. Apparently that’s still in the offing.

The contest itself went well. I think they had a total of 27 competition teams. Considering that the American Royal (which is kinda like the Super Bowl of bbq) was being held in Kansas City at the same time and a number of the mountain area teams were in KC it went surprisingly well. In fact, to get to the 27 teams (I think they have to get to 25 to be a sanctioned event) the organizer recruited several backyard cooks. I’ve mentioned that if I ever need cosmetic surgery I’ll recruit one of the experienced cooks because their slices are so precise. With the backyard cooks maybe not so much. We got a turn-in box of brisket where none of the fat had been trimmed or rendered and it looked like it’d been sliced with a Weed-Whacker. It didn’t score very high in the Appearance category and about the same in the Taste category.

While I was off playing judge my beloved Cornhuskers were wreaking a bit of revenge for the loss to CU by whupping the bejeebers out of the Northern Illinois Huskies. A bit of soothing balm to a bruised psyche.

The following week (Sept. 16-21) was Constitution Week in Grand Lake. Can you imagine…a whole week of celebrating a document created by our Founding Fathers that a number of our elected officials are entreating us to ignore? Regardless, it’s a weeklong celebration featuring speakers, Constitution trivia contests and all kinds of activities that culminates in a parade, a KCBS sanctioned barbecue contest, live music and fireworks over the lake.

The drive to Grand Lake was nothing short of spectacular. The aspen at the lower elevations have barely begun to turn but the drive from about Tabernash through Grandby and on into Grand Lake was sorta breathtaking. And with the lake as a backdrop? Some of the colors were so vivid…so brilliant…they were almost painful to look at.

As for the parade? It might’ve lasted 30 minutes but I don’t think so. The Conservatives had a float on the bed of a truck…the Progressives were on foot. Not too stereotypical…if you’re into that sort of thing. Greta Thunberg would’ve been elated and simultaneously incensed.  Lastly, the Grand Champion was a team from Westminster.

All-in-all a great day with one glaring exception. Charles. Remember Charles? I told you about Ascerbic Charles in a previous issue. Well, Charles was there to remind me of the outcome of the CU-Nebraska game. I was reminded of the song by Air Supply-“Just When I Thought I Was Over You”. It’s back to the therapist. The good news is that Nebraska squeaked by Illinois and CU got past Arizona State. On to the next one.

The next competition…and the last one for this year…is Westminster’s Meat & Scream at the site of the former Westminster Mall on October 29th. If you’re not doing anything and want to see what it’s all about feel free to drop by. I’m sure there’ll be lots to see and do besides inhaling the glorious aroma of smoking meat.

That about wraps it up for another episode. Remember, October 5th is Rocky Mountain Oyster Day so plan your trip to Bruce’s in Severance or The Buckhorn Exchange on Osage. See you through the smoke.