Many of our friends, fans, patrons, etc have been wondering what we have been up to as of late. Well in short LOTS. Heading into the off season this year I was hit right square in the forehead with a great deal of things that forced me to reconsider everything. More than a few times I had the phone in my hand about to make a phone call that would essentially sell out our operation and end Draper’s in it’s current form and a big piece of me was more than ok with that. It was a painful, but necessary place to be. It forced me to realize and also reconcile that we as Draper’s weren’t any longer doing the things that made us happy. I was miserable, Mike was doing his best to hold things together and everyone was afraid to admit it. We were very successful in a super short time and we had a large impact on the community we loved, but now we were being driven by the machine of success and no longer enjoying ANY of what we did. Don’t get me wrong I am not complaining, we are all genuinely thankful for every opportunity that came our way, but somehow we…well…. I forgot that it was ok to say “umm, nah I think we will pass on that one.”
So insert lots of time to soul search and I realized that while I love to compete I hated the flavor of competition barbecue. I also realized that I am most happy when people are just eating my food. Just handing an old man a simple barbecue sandwich and having him give you that look of “what did you do to this….they don’t make it like this any more” or that nod of “son you did your grandpa proud with this one” is what made me happiest and was better than any trophy. Simple, honest, nothing to hide behind, nothing fake….just real. I also started realizing we as Draper’s didn’t do more of that because we weren’t set up for it. Every time we did, it was with a gang of 10×10 pop ups, coolers, fold up tables and hours and hours of set up and tear down time. And let me tell you no matter how much money you make doing it, pulling a 16hr day doing that will make you think twice about doing it every weekend. So the only thing I knew to do was to get serious about taking the company that direction and that led to us considering buying a trailer that was set up more for vending.
So in preparation for this path we sold the toy hauler and started making calls and looking around. It was about this time that my good friend Brad Simmons gave me a call. Brad and Cindy Simmons helped bring the Ky State BBQ Festival to the great town of Danville, Ky and we have been fortunate to be a part of the festival the last two years. The first year just selling our sauce and rub and last year filling in for Ray Lampe (Dr. BBQ) doing demo’s and classes teaching people how to cook competition barbecue. If you don’t know about this festival go read up on it, it’s awesome! Basically, 6 barbecue superstars cook for about 30,000 of their closest friends. People get the best barbecue around from the best pitmasters around.
Brad mentioned they were going to open up the festival this year to another superstar or two to meet the demand they were expecting and asked would we / could we manage a crowd that big. That more or less cemented the idea that we were buying a trailer, but not just any trailer….a bad a** trailer that would be befitting of the honor of being asked to cook next to Brad, Carey Bringle, Craig Kimmel, Melissa Cookston, Moe Cason and Shelly Hunt.
So now the trailer had to be able to do medium sized events, HUGE events, KCBS competitions and MBN competitions. This was a TALL order to say the least. It wasn’t long before we took a trip to meet Steve Farris of Farris Trailers who assured us he could custom build most anything provided we knew what we wanted and had about 8 weeks to wait for it to be built. After checking out some of Steve’s trailers we decided what we wanted. A beast of a 22ft long trailer that had 8ft ceilings (we are all over 6ft) and was 8ft wide (and let’s say none of us turn down the extra helping of ANYTHING…ever…hey don’t judge). The main compartment would be 18ft and there would be a 4ft “porch” for us to mount cookers on, but ALSO it would have a rear ramp that could double as a stage for presentations. We also went with full heat and air and the full water kit which included water heater, pump and a 50gal and a 40gal holding tank. We ordered lights EVERYWHERE including the porch and power outlets every few feet. We opted for upgraded materials on the walls, insulation, etc but asked Steve to leave the trailer blank otherwise so would be free to configure and reconfigure until we got it the way we wanted it and then build in the cabinets that we wanted.
Without making you wait more here are some pics with some descriptions so you can see what I am talking about.
I am going to save the rest of the interior pics until we get it all done the way we want it. What the exterior pics don’t do a good job of is really giving you a sense of the scale. This trailer is a beast. It’s VERY tall and very wide. All in all between the tongue and the stage when it’s all splayed out this trailer is about 32ft of barbecue battle wagon.
Once we get all the vinyl put on the outside and a few touches that we are keeping under wraps for the time being this should be one of the sexiest places on 4 wheels that you can buy barbecue. We wanted to make a statement and that statement is “we are all in and are holding nothing back.”
I recognize we owe much to many, but from here forward Draper’s BBQ will keep the most important thing first…..the love of what we do. So if you see us out in the battle wagon don’t be afraid to stop by and say hi and chat with us. We will be busy, but we will always do what we can to share the love of what we do first and foremost with everyone we can.
Love, Peace and Pork Grease………Shane