South Loop River Blues Festival

Every year the adults of my family attend the South Loop River Blues Festival in Arnold, Nebraska.  We bring two RV's, put them side by side and set up tent city for the weekend.  I typically don't attend because of bad timing, but this year I decided to surprise them and show up after all. 

I have five brothers and sisters and they all come with their spouses except for one.  (My brother is a farmer and taking off a weekend in summer just isn't possible.)  This is camping at it's finest.  For starters, we are at the baseball field because this is where the festival is held.  The stage covers home plate.  Hundreds of people bring their campers and tents and stay all weekend for the great music.  We go beyond the basics and bring grills, fryers, fly repellent, tarps, lounge chairs, turf, rugs, generators, a propane campfire, and about 20 coolers.
This weekend is not all about music though.  A few years ago, my mom started the family cook off at the festival. After trying to figure out who would be making lunch she decided to make it a competition. It has grown to include t-shirts and a traveling trophy that is engraved each year.

Sometimes there are outside judges that we bribe with food and cold beer to do the judging for us, but most times we judge our own. This can be a problem at times because we are always trying to out do another family member by finding loop holes in the rules. We somehow always find a cheater.

The cook off is a different food category every year. For 2011 it happened to be hot dogs. Not just any hot dog though. The official, all beef, hot dog of the Nebraska Cornhuskers made right in Nebraska. The cook off part was to step up the hot dog.

There was some fierce competition. We had an Italian dog, two types of BBQ dogs with cider sauce and pimento cheese, and a spicy pepper mango dog wrapped in bacon and a poblano pepper. However, the trophy went to my sister and her best friend for their "Fire In the Aioli" dog.

This is them being presented by last years winners, my sister and her husband.  Notice their t-shirts and the traveling trophy.  Their hot dog was deep fat fried goodness to the max.

It was aptly named after how it would feel later on.  First they cut out the hot dog and layered fresh jalapeno cream cheese in the center of the dog.  Then they wrapped it in bacon.  Next they dipped it in my my mom's famous beer batter and deep fat fried it.  Once it was on the bun they added a spicy aioli sauce on top of it as their condiment.  Holy mother of hot dog it was good.  I think this should be the new fried food at the Texas State Fair!  They blew away the competition this year with most of the top votes. 

Only after our bellies are full, we head over to the ball field to enjoy some blues music.  My favorite this year was the Kris Lagar Band.  Kris has an awesome voice and the rest of the band has mad musical skills.  You can check out their music on itunes.   

{image via Blues Festival website}
We ended up dancing into the heat of the night and went to bed happy.  It's so much fun to slow down for a weekend of good laughs with those you love. 

Do you have any family traditions or competitions?