The American Royal Experience


My competition bbq team, Canadian Bakin’, was lucky enough to cook in the American Royal this past weekend.  We were honored to be among the 154 teams cooking The Invitational and overwhelmed to be one of the 545 teams cooking The Open.  Let’s start at the beginning…

Thursday…At 2am I woke up and was too excited to go back to sleep…I started packing immediately.   We got an early start and arrived at Kemper Arena, site of The Royal, around 2pm Thursday afternoon, a little before the 4pm arrival time we’d set for ourselves.   The first order of business, dinner, drinks and a little Texas Hold ‘Em.  The prize…a $15,000 FEC 500 on a trailer!  We didn’t win the cooker but we had a good time.

Friday Morning…After the meat is checked in, it’s time to go walkabout and see if we can find any bbq stars.   We found a few…

Diva Q with my wife and I.  Diva sometimes comes across as coarse on TV but she was an absolute sweetheart!  Being a bit of a collector and a bbq nerd, I had her sign my Canadian Maple Leaf Superfast Thermapen!   The Thermapen is my absolute number one go-to item in my arsenal of bbq tools.  If you don’t have one, get one by clicking on the banner on Big Waner’s Homepage. will wonder how you ever got along without one.

The 2nd picture is Johnny Trigg with my wife.

Tuffy Stone.  Tuffy took the time to speak with us about bbq on not one but two separate occasions.  What a gentleman!

Harry Soo.  Harry was surrounded by bbq enthusiasts all wanting a picture.  He obliged everyone with a great attitude and a smile.

ZBQ BBQ.  Winners of Sam’s Club Local and Regional, these boys were headed to Bentonville in search of a $50,000 price, then The Jack.  They also happened to be our neighbors at The Royal.  These boys can cook!  As proof, they took home a 5th place rib call in The Invitational.

My wife and I both walked around like starstruck school children gawking at the TV personalities we’ve until now only admired from afar.  We also met up with friends Jeff Brinker and Linda and Jeff Rippelmeyer we’d met in this our first year of competition bbqing….this was the highlight of my weekend!!!  Something I took from our trip through the stars was their amazingly open, friendly personalities.  The competitors were very obliging to everyone with a camera out for a photograph or a pen in hand for an autograph, these folks were as nice as could be.  It made me proud to be a bbq enthusiast!

Friday Night…my partner AJ and his wife arrive.  Time to arrange our camp, trim out meats, apply our injections and get down to the business of bbq.

Injection Pork Butts.

Trimming the dreaded chicken.

While trimming chicken, I was pulled from my EZ Up by Kyle Laval of The Slabs aka “The BBQ Pimp” for a bit on

Friday night…after our prep work was done, we visited some friends on “The Dark Side”.  This was bbq meets mardi gras.  Costumed party goers, themed corporate gigs with ice sculptures, bands everywhere and lot’s and lot’s of booze.  It was freezing cold and we were wanted to get our fires started early so we didn’t stay out long.  No pictures to show unfortunately…we’ll get those next year!

Saturday and Sunday…The nights were really cold…in the 30’s with wind….but the days weren’t too bad.  Sleep was at a premium due to the weather and the adrenaline level.  A few tarps thrown up around the EZ Up plus a couple of heaters made things tolerable.

Our walk to turn-in’s was almost half a mile!  And when we got there, it was quite the crowd scene.

And now for our turn in’s.  These are only half the boxes (mine only).  The chicken and brisket are for The Invitational while the pork and ribs are for The Open.  We had a heck of a time with our cooker temps and keeping the food hot/warm after boxing.  I’m sure we turned in cool/cold food most of the time which didn’t help our scores.







We didn’t get a walk in either The Invitational or The Open, but we did hear our friends called.  Jeff Brinker of B&B BBQ won first place Pork for The Invitational.  The Scheers of  Shake n Bake won first place Ribs for The Open!  We were thrilled just to be there…I can’t imagine how our friends felt after taking home such prestigious awards!

From left to Right…AJ, Jamie, me and Kare.

We had an amazing time but by the end we were ready to go home.  The weather was so cold at night and we ‘slept’ outside.  I was in dire need of a warm shower, a comfy bed and a hot pot of coffee.  We went up against the best of the best and, while we didn’t put up quite the showing I’d hoped, we learned a lot about our products and about ourselves.  I’m already counting the days until next year’s Royal.  Hopefully by then we’ll have an RV so I don’t freeze my tuckus off!  To the judges, Ambassadors, volunteers and anyone who had a hand in pulling off this amazing contest, thank you for making this such a memorable event!!

Alan Bowman

Canadian Bakin’ BBQ Team