Q: Dr. BBQ,
How can the average visitor to a BBQ competition get the most from the visit? I have gone to a few competitions, and, as an “outsider,” it appears to be like watching paint dry.
A: Hi Richard,
I can only speak about KCBS and Florida BBQ Association cook-offs because they are the only kind in which I actively cook. The formats of the two are very similar. The best time to visit with the cooks is Friday afternoon and evening. By 10 a.m. Saturday, most of us are getting very serious. When the entries are all turned in, most of us start packing to leave. I consider this a real deterrent to sponsorship and public participation. It would be logical for an interested person to think he could show up on Saturday afternoon and interact, but this generally isn’t the case. Another problem is feeding the public. Why would a guy want to go to a BBQ cook-off where he can’t eat? Health departments will never like sampling, and teams can’t be obligated to do it. A couple of legit barbeque vendors is a good idea (I happen to know a couple). There are quite a few cook-offs interested in addressing these problems; don’t be surprised if there are some changes soon.