Smoke Freaks are all packed up and ready for our first competition of the year at CCS Fest this weekend in Indianapolis. CCS Fest is the first stop on our American Freakage Tour 2017, where we will cover 5 states, 10,000 miles, 1,500 pounds of meat and 25 competitions for 1 goal -- BBQ glory.
It’s been a long, long off-season. During our time off, we put a lot of time into other parts of our BBQ operation.
Practice, practice, practice. I lost track of the total number of test cooks we did over the winter and spring, but it was a freaking lot. So many pieces of chicken to prep… so many slabs of ribs… countless flavor profiles for pork… brisket, brisket, brisket…
Freak Rub development and final testing. Over the fall, we did a “BBQ Rub Taste Test” with about 50 people to get their reactions to things like saltiness, sweetness, spice heat level, what types of food they would envision it on and how much they liked it. Then we spent the winter applying that feedback to our final recipe tweaks with more test cooks. Coming soon!
Supercharging the Smoke Freaks brand. It’s so cool to apply your professional brand marketing experience to your own brand. I’ve done this kind of work many times in my career but it’s so much more personal and the stakes are so much higher because it is YOUR brand. I tell you, in all of my years in Corporate America, I’ve never worked so hard on a brand or had as much fun as I did with this one. It’s great to have a solid foundation in place that will help us tell the story of our Smoke Freaks brand… Freak ON!
Sprucing up the Wolf Wagon. Our BBQ war machine, aka The Wolf Wagon, has finally been fully repaired from last year’s accident… it only took 10 months. We also added a new set of tires just this week to get totally roadworthy.
Securing sponsors for 2017. We started working on our sponsorship plan back in the fall by asking ourselves how WE could deliver value to sponsors, not the other way around. We did lots of brainstorming on potential partners and the specific offerings that would make up each sponsorship level. In the end, we focused on brands where we already had strong relationships and natural synergies.
Drum roll please… our American Freakage Tour 2017 is sponsored by Wichita Packing Company (provider of our premium BBQ meats), Hunsaker Smokers (builder of our amazing drum smokers) and Windy City Wood Products (purveyor of everything we burn in BBQ). We’re so appreciative of their support!
So after all that, we’re finally ready to jump back into the competition circuit this weekend. Good luck to everyone competing at CCS Fest this weekend in Indianapolis!
Ann is Co-Founder and Pitmaster for Smoke Freaks. She loves being the Head Cook and and has fallen head over heels in love with Pork.