Storm’s tempest fails to halt McLouth’s annual barbecue
For the first time in its 10-year history, the McLouth BBQ Blowout lived up to its name.
"We had a blowout on Friday night," said Cliff Weeks, chairman of the McLouth Recreation Commission, which sponsors the event. "All the cooking teams made it through the storm, hanging on for dear life as the hail storm went through."
Mary Geyer, Mission, a member of the Red Hot Pops BBQ team, rode out the storm in the open.
"We held on to the canopy so it would not blow," she said. "We were saying 'Where's Toto?' It was scary."
About two inches of nickel-sized hail pummeled their site, she said.
Debbie England, who weathered the storm with Geyer, said the hail stung.
"It felt like somebody was shooting us with BB guns," she said. "We had red welts on the backs of our legs afterward."
The sound of the hail was deafening, like a tornado, England said.
"We didn't hear the freight train we were the freight train."
Unlike Friday, Saturday turned out to be a sunny day, perfect for drawing out crowds. Weeks said between 3,000 and 4,000 attended the annual event.
One commercial booth, Daniel Hipsher, kept busy serving meals after their appetites had been fired by samples of barbecue. Hipsher, who owns Daniel's BBQ in Tonganoxie, said business was great. He plans to set up shop this weekend at the VFW park during Tonganoxie Days, as well as at other area festivals.
Among the 38 barbecue teams that sent clouds of mouth-watering smoke into the air was a new Tonganoxie team, Hempville Smokers, headed by Curt Oroke. Saturday afternoon, Oroke and his wife, Maria, along with Bruce Lopez, served samples of pork roast to passersby. They cooked and served in a trailer complete with smoker oven, refrigerator and sink.
Oroke, who builds houses in the Tonganoxie area, said he has barbecued for parties, but this was his first competition. His turkey entry in the miscellaneous competition netted a first-place win, and his group tied for third place in the People's Choice Awards.
Oroke, who prefers to keep his recipe to himself, said his real secret to barbecuing is simple:
"It takes a lot of patience and time," he said. "Especially a lot of time."