Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Flyball Tournament Food

The biggest difference between flyball and other dog sports is that flyball is a team sport. You certainly have friends and people who you train with in other sports. You have people you look forward to seeing at trials. But in flyball, you practice with your team every week, you crate with your team, you run with your team. And, if you are on my team anyway, you eat with your team!

I'm not in the least bit ashamed to admit that in our region, my team is known for the most impressive lunch buffets in our crating area. To a lot of us, the food spread is just another part of the tournament. It isn't a requirement for a team to bring food, of course. Some teams just let each individual bring something or plan on purchasing something for lunch when they are hungry, in an every-man-for-themselves sort of way. Not on our team!

Of course, putting together elaborate food spreads isn't exactly effortless. It is also a lot easier than you would think, though.

A week or two before the tournament, an email is sent out. The email looks something like this:

Breakfast stuff:
Sweet snacks:
Salty snacks:
Veggies and/or Fruit:
Lunch Saturday:
Lunch Sunday:
Bottled Water:
Plates, napkins, plastic ware:
Cooler w/Ice:

If we have people running with our team on Open, we often include them in the email as well as all of the team members who are traveling to the tournament. What happens then is that everyone signs up for what they are willing and able to bring. You end up with an email inbox that looks like this:

Actual screen shot of my email inbox when planning for the Stumptown tournament potluck

The most important part is to remember to hit "Reply All" rather than just "Reply" so that everyone gets to see all of the latest updates. Sometimes, someone needs to compile multiple lists together as some contributions mysteriously disappear in the email chain. For the most part, though, it works well. Since most venues have electricity available in the crating area, we often have at least the lunch dishes as hot items warmed up in crock pots. For those tournaments that don't have electricity, all of the dishes are things that can be served cold or room temperature.

The final potluck email for the Stumptown tournament

The final potluck email from the X-Fidos tournament

As you can see from the screen shots of the final potluck emails from the past two tournaments, the food can vary a lot. As the weather gets colder, chili and soups in crock pots tend to get more popular than things like sandwiches. 

You may not know it based on these emails, we do have a couple of people with dietary restrictions. Two of our team members are vegan. For the most part, we count on them reading packaging to know if they can eat the food that is brought along. A lot of us will make sure to bring something that works for them (such as hummus as an alternative sandwich spread) or simply choose the vegan friendly version of a food when out shopping. With the meal plans laid out like this, it makes it easy for people with any dietary restrictions (vegan, gluten free, etc) to plan what they can eat with the group and what they should bring for themselves.

Of course, this email list also ensures that we have enough tables to put the food on, coolers to keep it edible in, plates/napkins/forks/spoons/knives to not have to eat like heathens, etc. And water. Always make sure there is plenty of water at the tournament, and drink a ton of it. I also highly recommend bottles of tea (especially sweetened with honey), as they seem to help the sore throat that comes with flyball tournaments.

I think this method works great. It keeps anyone from having to put too much effort into planning the potluck. People can sign up to bring what they can afford to bring (short on cash that month? sign up to bring bottled water and a cooler with ice!). Our group is generally really good about rotating who brings what so that the same people aren't always providing lunch (though the tables and coolers are often brought by the same people over and over). A good group of people is essential to making this work. But a successful potluck spread makes a flyball tournament so much more fun!


  1. Love it! Your team is more organized than ours. We just have a massive email before the tournmanet with everyone saying what they will bring. We usually all bring extras for snacking. A few of our teammates have RVs which are next to the racing site which means we can use their kitchens for lunch. Love racing but also appreciate the downtime with teammates and food lol

  2. Wow, very creative! :) You guys must have a blast at those events!

  3. You guys are very organized. No wonder your spreads turn out so good each time. I like potlucks because you get to eat a lot of different thing and stuff made my other people is always a bonus.