For moral support, I brought along my 2-year-old son, Camden Lee, and my stepchildren, Trent and Emily Woodall. Emily mostly slept through the day in my car. Trent mostly chased Camden around making sure he behaved while I tasted chili, chicken, ribs, brisket and homemade vanilla ice cream.
The kids got to eat a lot too; Camden Lee gnawed happily on a rib he carried around with him like a cute little caveman.
That particular Saturday was a very cold, crisp day. In between judging sets, my children and I nibbled on small samples of the available food.
There was one dessert dish – a peach cobbler with homemade vanilla ice cream that brought back fond memories of my PePa and MeMa in Dallas. (My PePa was known to make extraordinary homemade ice cream.)
Camden Lee was only one of many adorable youngsters roaming around, many of them yelling, giggling, laughing, running and generally enjoying themselves.
Mo Raissi, Jacksonville city manager, and Will Cole, public works director, were both out in full effect – both in their civilian clothes. Many city employees and officials were around the enjoy the event.
I didn't have time to stay and graze on the leftover food after judging was completed because Cam was growing restless and grouchy and really, really needed to calm down for his nap. Feeling sad that I couldn't eat more, I loaded the kids up and moved on out.
I can't say enough about people who donate their time and money to help others in need. And coming up with an event like this that can only help this effort is very commendable.
Anyway, as I drove away after downing so many of the magnificent ribs, I once again felt like I was floating on that aforementioned meat-induced cloud – hoping an invitation to judge this event will be sent to me again next year.
Reporter Ben Tinsley can be contacted by email, email@example.com, or by phone at 903-586-2236.
Tinsley can also be followed on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/bentinsley or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ben.tinsley.12.