As soon as the holidays are over, it’s time to start planning for this up-coming BBQ season.
Right now, The Killer Hogs are already looking at the calendar and deciding which contests we want to enter this year, we are getting our application ready for Memphis in May, we have started scheduling a few weekend practices and we make a few plans to judge a contest or two.
If you are thinking about entering a contest, I suggest you start making your plans right now. Check the KCBS, the MBN or your local BBQ Network to see what contests are coming up this year. (you can see a list of all the BBQ networks and associations by clicking this link here.)
Unless you are dealing with a big contest – like Memphis In May – these contests don’t usually fill-up and they will take applications as late as the week before… but if you have a team and need to collect dues, advanced noticed is always needed.
Believe me, it takes more planning than you would expect… and no matter how long you have been cooking it’s always a good idea to do a few practice runs beforehand.
For anyone interested in judging contests (which I recommend to anyone who is currently competing, interested in competing or just wants to eat some of the best BBQ on the planet) you need to get your name on the list as soon as possible.
Most contests fill-up their judging requirements pretty fast… so as soon as you decide you want to judge a specific contest you need to email the judge’s contact ASAP. (you can find up-coming BBQ contests in your area and the judge’s contact info by visiting BBQ network websites.)
Same thing goes for judging school. No reputable BBQ Contest is going to let you judge unless you have been certified (and you can get certified by attending a 1-day judging class). So if you want to become a BBQ judge, go to the BBQ network website and sign-up for one of their judging classes. These classes typically fill-up quick too… so if you’re interested you need to get on it.
Now… if you are interested in entering your first BBQ contest, there are a few tips you might want to know.
If the contest offers a “backyard” or a “patio” section… enter that division. It usually costs less, usually doesn’t require you to do quiet as much as the professional division and it will let you get a feel for competing without having to invest too much money.
I don’t care how amazing your grandpa’s BBQ sauce is… or how mouth-watering everyone told you your ribs are… the guys in the professional division have spent years perfecting everything – all the way down to how to place the BBQ in the turn-in box. You ain’t going to beat them your first time out because there is so much more that goes into competition BBQ that you probably realize.
I suggest entering the “patio” division and then making friends with guys in the professional division… ask them questions, stand outside their tents and watch them give their presentations to the judges… and just get a feel for what the contest is all about.
Believe me, it’s cheaper to make your mistakes and work-out your kinks in the amateur division than it is in the professional division.
If you have any questions about entering contests or getting into competition BBQ, send me an email!