Sunday, April 1, 2012

2012 Las Vegas BBQ Throwdown at Mandalay Bay!

This article was edited on 8-23-2014.  A slide show was added!

The 2012 Las Vegas Throwdown BBQ Championship and Outdoor Expo!

     If you are into barbecue, then Las Vegas was the place to be this weekend!  Sunny, breezy and cool spring temperatures this weekend were perfect BBQ weather.  Everything and anything barbecue was on display or for sale at the 2012 Las Vegas BBQ Throwdown!
     BBQ grill and BBQ smoker manufacturers displayed their goods at many booths and tents.  There were plenty of state of the art BBQ cooking items for sale.  Old fashioned backyard custom BBQ grills and custom BBQ trailers were on sale too.
     The aroma of good mouth watering BBQ could be smelled from miles away.  There was so much BBQ to taste at this event, that I would have gained 400 pounds if I had sampled every item at the BBQ Throwdown!  Free BBQ samples were offered by nearly every BBQ competition team.  Some of the teams charged money for samples and I do have a hard time with that kind of logic.  It is not a sample if you have to pay!

     Many award winning BBQ competitors had their trophies and titles on display.  The 2012 Las Vegas BBQ Throwdown had a grand prize pool of $60,000 dollars this year.  Last year's 2011 Las Vegas BBQ Championship at the Orleans Casino had a $125,000 top prize.  The reduction in prize money resulted in fewer returning BBQ teams from last year, but many new BBQ teams showed with the sole intent of landing the jackpot at this year's event anyway.

     Because the Las Vegas BBQ Throwdown was held at Mandalay Bay on the Las Vegas Strip, the attendance numbers were much better than last year's BBQ championship event.  The Outdoor Expo was held in the Mandalay Bay Convention Center next to the BBQ Throwdown.  That is a great combination of events and this is why the attendance was higher this year.  Spring is a great time for an outdoor expo, because outdoor enthusiasts want to see what is new for the upcoming summer camping, fishing, hunting and barbecue season.

     There was a sea of BBQ eatin' people roaming the grounds of this years BBQ championship.  Everybody that had a BBQ tent with BBQ for sale was making plenty of money!
     I attempted to get the culinary arts school that I am attending to organize a competitive BBQ vending team in this year's event, but they could not fit the small entry fee into their budget.  The return on investment was naively questioned from the start.  As it turned out, the return on investment would have more than just broke even money at this year's BBQ championship.  At least $1,000 per hour is what I saw BBQ teams pull in during peak crowd flow hours.  Not organizing a BBQ team was a bad move on the culinary school's part.
     With a prime location like Mandalay Bay, a BBQ vendor simply cannot go wrong at an event like this!  I casually chatted with the owner of a Las Vegas catering company about entering a competition team in the event, but since I am not an employee I had second thoughts about the possible prize money split and profit sharing.  So, I backed off from pursuing a BBQ competition team via a third party licensee.

     At this years event, there were several great BBQ cooking styles.  Chicago style smoked meats with the sauce on the side, Chinese Hunan BBQ, Voodoo Zombie (Jerk), St Louis style BBQ, Memphis dry rub BBQ, western sweet BBQ, Texas style hot spicy BBQ, North Carolina pulled meat BBQ, and Georgia/Florida style tangy spicy sauced ribs were just some of the great regional styles of BBQ cooking at the BBQ Throwdown.
     One style of BBQ that was missing at the Throwdown was the southern style slow cook open pit spicy vinegar basted style of BBQ that can be found from Alabama to North Carolina.  That was the style of BBQ that I wanted to vend at this event.  That was a good call on my part, when I attempted to negotiate a BBQ team with the school and the catering company, because I could have cornered the market!  All it takes to make money is offering a unique high quality BBQ product.

     Passion is what BBQ is all about!  A BBQ competitor or restauranteur has to have confidence and passion to enter a BBQ event.  Ask any competitor at this year's Throwdown who has the best BBQ and you know what the answer will be!

     Many sponsors of the Throwdown had their wares on display.  Jack Daniels provided the entertainment.  Dodge trucks had a huge pick up truck obstacle course.  Bull had some great looking state of the art BBQ equipment and outdoor kitchens on display.  There were plenty of custom BBQ manufacturers offering great items at negotiable prices.

     Of course there was a mechanical bull at the Las Vegas BBQ Throwdown.  That is entertainment at its best!  A series of photos showing a hard landing can be seen in the slide show above.

     I had a great time strolling around, sampling BBQ and photographing the 2012 Las Vegas BBQ Throwdown!  I got a belly full of great BBQ samples and I could not resist purchasing Tran's Hunan BBQ Pork On A Stick!  Tender delicious hunan BBQ pork is one of my all time favorites!  I have posted recipes for a nice Hunan BBQ sauce in this blog, if you want to try that style of Char Siu BBQ.
     If you are into BBQ of any shape, style or flavor, then the Las Vegas Throwdown BBQ Championship is the place to be!  I do recommend making plans to attend next year's event.  Sin City is BBQ heaven!  Yum!    

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