They asked me to be a judge. Not like 20 years ago, when I wheedled my way into being a brisket judge at the “behind the store” Terlingua chili cookoff. No, this time I was invited.
So in the morning, in the dark and way-too-early, I’ll head west for Brady and the World Championship BBQ Goat Cook-Off. I’ve been once before, as an onlooker back in 2000, but best I can recall my old man and I just walked around for awhile, drank a couple of beers and headed back to San Angelo.
This time, I’ll be judging the cabrito, following in the footsteps of Statesman food editor Addie Broyles, who did just that a couple years ago. (Read her story here.) Her first lesson for me was that the finals judges are the guys who have been judging for decades. They are the generals. I am the foot soldier. The comparatively younger, rotunder, bearded fellow you see at every cook-off, helping separate the good from the gack!
(There’s a mystery meat contest as well. I’m already feeling destined to be involved in that. At that Terlingua chili cookoff in the mid-1990s, I was wandering around when I ran into another fellow from San Angelo. We talked awhile and he said “hey, you want some sweetbreads?” Given my naive suburban upbringing, I just assumed this was a folksy West Texas way of referring to doughnuts or cinnamon rolls or the like. “Sure.” I was wrong. Very, very wrong. I kept my poker face when he brought out the lumpy gray goo and seemed to mean that we were going to eat it. I kept it down. And then I left, quite a bit wiser and queasier.)
The 40 or so judges in Brady will have their hands full with the 200 teams that’ll compete in this 43rd annual event, drawing thousands to a town that ain’t no bigger than thousands itself. If you have it in mind to check it out, things get underway Saturday at 7:30 a.m. with a pancake breakfast and/or a “Goat Gallop” 5k/10k run and continues through an 8 p.m. street dance on the courthouse square featuring William Clark Green. (Check out the schedule here.) It all takes place at Richards Park, off Highway 87 west of downtown Brady.
I aim to file a half-dozen reports (the world’s first live-blogger of a goat cook-off) from the scene tomorrow — but there’s no telling what the day or the weather (40% chance of afternoon storms) will bring. Whatever it may be, look for it all first on the “Oh, Texas” Facebook page.