Over the past week I’ve received a lot of inquiries from members of the BBQ Fest team I’m on, the Moody Ques. “We haven’t heard anything,” they told me. “What’s going on?” they asked. “Is there going to be a team? And if there is, are the problems that happened last year going to be addressed?” I had those questions myself, and set up a meeting with Clay, our team vice-president, and got the answers a couple of weeks ago. I’ve now been given permission to share that info with our team. Clay suggested that I use my blog to share the information, because let’s face it, no one looks at our team website.
As I said last week, I had other teams interested in having me join. I took in all the information I’m about to share, and after processing it all I decided I was going to remain with the Moody Ques. That said, this is not going to be a “Last year was awesome and this year will be even better!!!” statement. I would have zero credibility if I did that. We all know there was some stupid stuff that happened last year, and our team leadership needs to be held accountable. It’s going to happen, right here. I’m taking the same approach I did during BBQ Fest week last year: The filter is completely off. Okay, let’s do this.
(Since our team president is a lawyer, I guess I better insert that none of this should be taken as a contract or a guarantee, just what I’ve been told will happen.)
THE FOOD: This year we will be partnering with our next door booth neighbors from last year. Many team members went over and sampled their food, and it was delicious. So their team of about 10 members will join forces with us – they’ll supply the food, we’ll supply the party. You may have noticed the numerous trophies decorating their tent last year. These guys know how to win cooking competitions and we’re looking forward to winning with them. 49th out of 51 (our placement last year) is COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE and we’re taking the steps we need to take to prevent that from ever happening again. If we were not I would be announcing that I had joined another team, not telling you the reasons I’m staying with this one.
We recognize that last year, there were long stretches of time when there was nothing to eat in the booth. We are committed to fixing that. We’re going to get our cooks to agree to two full meals a day, plus some minor snacks in between. We also had problems with the timing last year. It doesn’t do any good for food to start coming off the grill at 10:15 when the park closes at 10:30. This year we are going to feed our team members in a timely fashion.
One other complaint I kept hearing about last year was that THERE WAS TOO DAMN MUCH CHICKEN. I’m not sure who screwed up that order but it will not happen again this year. This year we will actually serve BBQ at BBQ Fest. Ribs, pork shoulder, that kind of thing. What a novel idea. If you want chicken there’s a Jack Pirtle’s on Thomas.
THE BOOTH: This year we’re going to keep things simple. We’re not going to build an elaborate booth and attempt to win a prize for it. We’re leaning toward a one-story, completely open booth. If you’ve seen The Hogfather and some other teams, you’ll know that it is possible to have a one-story structure and still be a huge party. Location is not yet decided, but if we go one-story it is more likely that we will try to move to the riverside. We will save so much money by not having to erect elaborate scaffolding that we will be able to afford it if we choose.
One other change that we’re going to have from last year is TAP HANDLES THAT ACTUALLY POUR BEER. Functionality is more important than appearance this year. I know a lot of team members wished they could have poured a beer to go with their thirty bazillion pounds of uncooked chicken, but the tap wall didn’t work. This year, we’re keeping it simple and the beer will flow freely.
Oh, and one more thing… THIS YEAR WE’RE NOT GOING TO FLY THE FUCKING FLAG UPSIDE DOWN. With Sweden as the honored country it’s actually impossible to do so. I’ll make it my personal responsibility to make sure we don’t find a way to do something equally stupid, like flying Switzerland’s flag.
TEAM LEADERSHIP: Moody will still serve as team president, but she has requested that her day-to-day involvement be minimal. Vice-president Clay and secretary/treasurer Frank will handle most of the decision making and day to day stuff. If you have questions that aren’t covered here, Clay would probably be the best person to ask. Frank makes his living as an accountant and does a great job managing the team’s money with accuracy and transparency.
THE BAR: I know there were people who had problems with those two bartenders who worked for us last year. They will not be back. It’s long been my opinion that you need professional bartenders, preferably ones who already know most of the team members prior to the start of BBQ Fest. This year we’ve got that covered.
Jamie and Jeannette.
The Blind Bear is back on board with us as a sponsor. If for any reason Jamie and Jeannette can’t work the peak times (Thursday and Friday evenings), they’ll get people who work at the Bear to do it. I don’t think we could possibly ask for better people to run a bar.
Also: Team members will have different wristbands than guests this year. That was one of the hugest mistakes of last year in my opinion. If the line at the bar is four or five deep, a team member ought to be able to hold up their wristband and get priority service over guests. Team members will still have the rubber bands, but we’re going back to paper wristbands for guests.
THE DOOR/GUEST ACCESS: One of the things we did right last year was to have an off-duty MPD officer, Moody’s brother, working security for us. Good security is a must at BBQ Fest and we are happy to have him back Thursday and Friday nights. I know for a fact having him last year prevented problems.
Other than that, though, guest access was very badly handled last year. The rules changed in the middle of the festival and that was not acceptable. Friday night in particular was just a fucking disaster. I myself had three guests who could not get in because of that rule change. It was very embarrassing to have promised they could come in and then they were turned away. Other members had similar problems. I very nearly quit the team and joined Squeal Street because of this, and this was one of the main things I needed to hear would be done differently for 2013. After talking with Clay I am satisfied that team management has this under control.
I’ve already mentioned the wristbands. Team members will have their own rubber wristbands, and will be given paper wristbands in the team packs to hand out to guests. Number of guest wristbands per team member has yet to be determined. Team members will also be able to meet their guests at the door and get them in. Of course, at peak times there may be a wait to get guests in, because we can’t go over the capacity the fire marshal sets for us.
If you have any concerns about the door talk to Clay, or contact me and I will pass on the info to him.
THE MUSIC: Memphis in May does not allow BBQ Fest teams to bring in professional DJs with all of their equipment. You have to use an iPod or something similar to provide the music for your team booth. That said, there’s no reason we can’t have a professional DJ create a playlist and put it on an iPod. We’re still working on this but that is the direction in which we’re thinking.
THE SPONSORS: Our main sponsor last year, WordPress, has not yet committed. However, I know they are hunting for a house near BBQ Fest to rent that week, which is a strong sign. Their financial commitment will likely be about half of what it was last year, but that’s still significant. With a much less elaborate booth design and with the new cookteam supplying the food, we should have no problem remaining within budget. We have backup plans in case WordPress does not come through.
As I mentioned, Blind Bear is back as a sponsor and they will be running the bar.
MEMBERSHIP: Clay has confirmed the dues will remain the same as last year: $250 individual, $350 couples. You must be a real-life couple to join at the couples rate.
We need to get an email out to last year’s team members. Hopefully that will happen this week. We also need to get a PayPal link set up so people can, you know, pay their dues and stuff. The team has enough money in the bank to cover the Memphis in May entry fee already, but we need to know who is coming back fairly soon so we can get Friends & Family Night tickets, wristbands, etc.
After mentioning the Moody Ques on the blog last week, I’ve already had one new person express an interest in joining. We need to find out who’s returning and who’s not, but I’m fairly confident there will be a few spots open.
I want to close out by saying I bear no ill feelings toward Double J, who was our sponsor last year and will not be coming back. They are a fine place to grab a steak or some ribs and listen to some live music. And besides, where else can you get a free limo ride to a Grizzlies or Tigers game? Although we’re not working with the Double J folks this year, they’re still our friends.
Nor do I bear any ill feelings toward Brent from Holliday Flowers, our booth designer last year who has decided not to come back. If you need an event planned, he is absolutely the person I would recommend you contact. I have been to events he has done, both BBQ Fest and elsewhere, and his design is absolutely outstanding. He’s expecting a baby around the time of BBQ Fest and I wish him and his family the best.
Team members or prospective members, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if there are questions and I will pass them on to the team leaders. (Edit: Clay has given me permission to post his email address too. It’s email@example.com. I’ll try to get a Tuesday news update post up after work.