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In 2013, at the Boats, Bands, and BBQ event in Pueblo, I saw newer members walk past "Bullfeathers" without realizing who they were…and then this year at a bucket lunch, I heard repeatedly from some of the "founding fathers" that things were "just different". It occurred to me that things aren't that different, we have just grown so much that we have lost sight of our past. So, in an attempt to hold on to the roots of the organization, we are setting out to document the history of the RMBBQA through a series of articles. One thing that I have always respected was that the persons who started this organization did so with the intent to honor the contributions of those who came before. I hope that through this series, we honor the men and women who have made the organization what it is today. Beth Lenz (Rib-It)

The Beginning
The Shot

The Beginning

By Beth Lenz (Rib-It)

Like any good story, we start at the beginning. To start there, I talked to the founder of the RMBBQA, Mark Welte (Carcass Cookers, Pueblo, Colorado). Mark (or "Precious", but that is another story) and his wife Jen started competing in 2003. They were invited to a BBQ up in the mountains in 2002, to the Colorado BBQ Challenge in Frisco, Colorado. There was no stopping them after that trip and they started competing in the five contests in Colorado in 2003. Fast forward to 2004 and the number of contests in Colorado was down to three: Frisco, Dillon, and Pueblo. Mark realized that if he was going to continue this "hobby", we had to do something to support Colorado contests. The first thing he did was make a phone call to Jim Minion (of "The Minion Method" fame). At the time, Jim was on the board of the Western BBQ Association (WBA), an organization that was operating in the Pacific North-west. Through that contact, Mark was able to get copies of the WBA's bylaws and articles of incorporation.

With documents in hand, Mark called fellow cooks to see if they would be willing to meet at Keith Yowell's office (Keith being with "Team Danny"). So, on November 16, 2004, the first organization meeting of the RMBBQA was held. To the best of Mark's recollection, the following persons were in attendance: Mark Welte, Keith Yowell, Mike Bystrom, Brenda Cameron, Denny Mildenberger, Doug Piersal, Doug Nasland, and Steve Marrs. Everyone at the meeting thought it was a great idea, so Mark ran with the idea. He enlisted the help of Brian Geddes, the attorney for a family business. Brian was able to walk Mark through the process of making the organization a reality and on November 30, 2004, the Articles of Incorporation were signed and submitted to the Colorado Secretary of State's Office. The purposes of the association were:

  • To Educate
  • To Promote Contests
  • To Help Teams (including prospective teams)
  • To Contribute to Charitable Causes

There had been previous attempts at holding a "Triple Crown" and lots of talk about starting some type of organization, but it took the dedication and persistence of Mark Welte to organize the association into what it is today. We went from having three events in 2004, to five in 2005, to seven in 2006, and eleven in 2007! Mark served as the President of the RMBBQA from 2004-2009.

In the next couple of months, we will be taking a look at some of the founding teams of the RMBBQA, including "Over the Fence", "Team Danny", "Sweetheart City Smokers", "Smoke N the Rockies", "Denver Cajun BBQ Krewe", "Los Nerds", and of course, the team, the legend, "Bullfeathers".

We will also get to the bottom of the history behind some of our most treasured traditions, including the 11 o'clock shot, and also a look at the RMBBQA Cup Contests through the years, the judges who have been with us through it all, and some of the crazy stories along the way.

If we honor our past, we only become stronger.

The Shot

By Beth Lenz (Rib-It)

One of the questions I've been asked the most is the history of THE SHOT. I've heard many versions myself, so I decided to start snooping around and pull together the true story behind the RMBBQA 11 o'clock shot.

On June 17, 2005, 15 teams in the newly organized "Rocky Mountain BBQ Association" headed to Sydney, Nebraska, to participate in the "1st Annual Cabela's World Foremost BBQ Challenge". Smoke N the Rockies and the team to beat, Bullfeathers, were in attendance.

On Saturday the 18th, as was expected, Bullfeathers ran away with the contest. To the best recollection, they got first place in just about every category! Bullfeathers (Mike and Marjie Bystrom, and their kids) was the team to beat in 2004/2005. Well, after the event, teams were given free spots at an RV park in Sydney. Smoke N the Rockies had set up and had the famous bar set up, complete with the trophies they'd won on display. Doug Naslund recalls, "Well, we pulled into the park and Bullfeathers shows up and parks right next to us. Mike (Bystrom) comes over and tells us congratulations on the calls we got. Then Mike says, why don't we do a shot? Well, Mike was drinking Crown Royal". Mike left to go get his bottle of Crown. When he came back, "he walked over with this sad look on his face, carrying a bottle of Crown with very little left in the bottle". Doug Piersel offered a bottle of Old Grand-Dad and they did a shot of that.

Well, a week later, they were in Frisco, Colorado for the "Colorado BBQ Challenge". Doug Piersel, thinking about Mike carrying that almost empty bottle of Crown Royal, with the sad look on his face, decides to buy a bottle of Crown Royal for Bullfeathers. When "the Dougs" presented the bottle, Mike declared that it was cause for a celebration! Mike thought about it for a bit and then suggested that they meet at 11:00 on Saturday. "We are all putting on chicken, or it's been on. Let's do an 11 o'clock shot!" Mike walked around the event site, inviting every team to the come to the shot.

So, on June 24, 2005, the very first RMBBQA 11 o'clock shot was held. It is believed that the following teams were in attendance: Team Danny, Throw Me a Bone, Getting Piggy Wit It, Over the Fence BBQ, Denver Cajun BBQ Krewe, Carcass Cookers, 4 Legs Up, Rini's Bar & Grill, and the founders of the 11 o'clock shot, Bullfeathers and Smoke N the Rockies!

By September of 2005, it was an established tradition and signature of the Rocky Mountain BBQ Association. It symbolizes that even though we compete against each other, we all cheer for each other. In 2009, out of respect for those who don't drink alcohol, an alcohol-free option started being offered and the Board of Directors put together some loose guidelines for hosting a shot.

Rocky Mountain BBQ Association "Eleven O'clock Shot" Tradition: Guidance to Hosts
The individual or team hosting the shot will be referred to as "The Host." "Participants" refer to those individuals representing teams participating in the traditional shot.

1. The Host shall be a Rocky Mountain BBQ Association member in good standing.

2. The Host will have non-alcoholic beverages available to Participants.

3. The Host will ensure the traditional shot occurs at one hour prior to first standard category turn-in (traditionally the Chicken Category).

4. The Host will be responsible for pouring the shots.

5. The Host is discouraged from handing the shots to individuals; rather, it is preferred the Host allow the Participants to select and retrieve their own shots.

6. The Host is expected to present the toast; in the event the Host is unable to present the toast, the Host shall ensure another Rocky Mountain BBQ Association member is available to present the toast.

7. If applicable, and in the event a Participant appears to be under 21 years of age, the Host reserves the right to ask for state-issued identification as proof of age.

8. If applicable, the Host is expected to use their best judgment regarding serving of alcohol to persons already visibly intoxicated, underage personnel, individuals not associated with the BBQ event, etc.

9. The Host is expected to execute their duties in view of rules and regulations associated with the event (to include local/state/federal law) and coordinate with the Event Organizer when questions arise.