21th Annual BBQ ‘N Blues Festival
Each year, Cushing Pipeline Companies gather to cook barbecued brisket for the citizen of Cushing and surrounding area. The preparation and cost of cooking is borne by each of the companies. Part of the rules of the cooking, in order to be judged by the judges as well as the general public who partakes of the food, is that individuals who work for the various companies have to do the cooking. You cannot bring in a professional chef or owner of a barbecue restaurant. The meat also has to be cooked over the main smoker and not any other individual grill or apparatus.
Up until 2012, each of the companies’ cooks would spend most of the night preparing beef brisket on the “Largest Permanent Smoker in the World.” Dependent upon how many companies cooked would determine how much brisket they fixed. It is always between 100 and 125 pounds of brisket each.
In 2012, We filled all of the “snorkels” of the smoker filled which means that eleven companies will be cooking 100 pounds of brisket. In 2013, Larry Brewer and the Matrix crew volunteered to build us a new larger smoker that would have fifteen (15) snorkels because we now have more than 11 pipeline companies in Cushing.
The “Smoker” is a huge round metal smoker that has a central firebox. Each company cooking attaches a grill to the end of each “snorkel.” They use the fire from the central firebox to actually cook their meat. The smoker weighs over 12 tons and it takes a crain to lift it.
This year, the food will be cooked so that the participating festival goers can begin sampling at 11:00 a.m. People who taste the brisket purchase a $5 taster’s kit from the Information Tent. This allows them to actually go from company to company and taste the barbecued brisket.
Brisket is usually not the only meat prepared but it is the meat that gets judged. Many cookers will also prepare some other meat as well and many of the companies will also prepare many of the trimmings such as beans, potato salad, etc. that go well with barbecue. This is not something they are required to do. They do it because they want the public to enjoy the festival and the food.
This year, somewhere around 1:00 to 2:00 p.m., the judges will have tasted all the meat and will be judged. There are two awards that are given. One is the Judge’s Award. However, the second award is called the “Peoples’ Award.” When you get your taster’s kit, you will also receive a ballot that you can drop into the can from the company who you feel has the best brisket. The winner of both categories will receive a plaque. That gives the winners bragging rights until the next year where hope for winning is renewed and competition starts all over again.