What's better than barbecue? Lots of barbecue! For a full and fun barbecue experience, a barbecue contest offers a variety of meats, side dishes, camaraderie, competition, prizes and best of all, lots of barbecue. To organize a barbecue contest, follow these steps.
Do the homework. Attend other barbecue cook-offs; participate as a volunteer and contestant or even a judge. Watch and learn the techniques of a successful barbecue contest.
Get the details. Set a date and find a place. Determine the contest rules; many barbecue associations' websites offer rules to use as samples. Decide on an entry fee, prizes and ticket prices. Develop an entry form. Consider donating proceeds to a local non-profit for increased interest.
Promote the cook-off. Many barbecue associations show a calendar of events. List the cook-off on those calendars. Contact local barbecue groups to attend. Advertise in local newspapers, with neighborhood associations, community calendars and other media sources. Contact nearby barbecue associations with information and entry forms.
Find sponsors. Sponsors, such as local restaurant supplies, grocery stores and other businesses, can offer monetary support, equipment and supplies and a pool of volunteers. Treat the sponsors well by including their names in all promotional material.
Recruit volunteers and judges. Volunteers are vital to a successful barbecue contest. There are the workers who take tickets, clean up trash cans, form committees and are the heart of the contest. Look for them through local barbecue associations, sponsors and the non-profit which benefits from the event. Form committees to handle various facets of the event: facilities, ticket sales, promotion, contestants and judges. Several associations, such as the Kansas City Barbecue Society, certify judges for barbecue contests. Contact them for recommendations. On a smaller scale, barbecue lovers can make great judges.
Organize the facilities. Rent tents and set them up as needed. Have water, trash cans, tables and serving stations. Have plenty of parking, restroom facilities, signage as needed and a "gate" to sell and take tickets. Set a schedule of events. Develop judging criteria and inform the judges of the criteria. Have volunteers serve as contact between the contestants and the organizers. Inform contestants of set-up times, available facilities--such as RV parking--and the schedule.
Hold the event. Start on time, have prizes ready, let the judges do their judging and try to make sure everyone has a good time. And most importantly, eat lots of barbecue.
- Name tags for contestants, volunteers and judges can help in the high-stress time of the event. Consider different colored name tags for each category, so the person's role can be quickly identified.
- Investigate professional barbecue cook-off organizers. These professionals are available for a fee and come with experience and expertise. The cost, especially in the first year, may be very worthwhile.
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