The month of April means the beginning of the barbecue competition season. By this time of year we can’t wait to get started with our backyard barbecue and all the things that go with it. On the East Coast the first barbecue competition of the season is Pork in the Park in Salisbury, Maryland. It is a well-run event with lots of competitors. This year they had 134 barbecue teams.
The Kansas City Barbecue Society (KCBS) is the sanctioning body for this event. They are also the organization that certifies judges. There are many great reasons to be a barbecue judge. First of all and the best reason to be a judge is that you get to sample the best barbecue in the world. These competitions bring together great barbecue cooks that know their stuff about cooking smoked barbecue. In this event with more than 134 competitors you got to sample some pretty good smoked meat.
The second reason that it is great to be a judge is that it improves your own barbecue. You learn how good barbecue actually tastes. Before becoming a judge I used to think that boiled ribs were pretty good. You just don’t know until you try real barbecue. It makes you want to go out and learn how it is done.
The third attractive reason to be a judge is that you get to meet people from many walks of life. I had fellow judges that were social workers, doctors, professors, truck drivers, caterers, plumbers, …. anyway you get the picture. It was a lot of fun to talk about Q with all of these people.
The fourth reason to be a judge is that it gives you something to do on the weekend. You can plan your weekends well ahead of time so that you know exactly what you’re going to do during the summer and fall. Some judges travel to competitions every weekend. Most of them try to stay within a 4 to 5 hour drive from home. What is not apparent is that these judges travel to these events at their own expense.
A fifth reason is tied to the fourth in that is that you get to travel to many different places. There are competitions in the large cities such as Washington DC and in many small towns such as Salisbury. It is fun to go to these places if you have never been there.
My wife likes the sixth reason (and I do too). That reason to be a judge is that it gives couples something to do together. There are many married couples in barbecue judging. KCBS has a rule that married couples cannot be at the same judging tables. This is a good rule for obvious reasons.
The last and most important reason to be a barbecue judge is that it is just plain fun. For all of the reasons above (and probably many more) judging is a great activity. You get to taste some great food, make friends, learn about barbecue, and go places. So if you think that this is something that you would like to do then go to the case KCBS site and find a judging class and join the fun.