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warfrat
12-02-2011, 10:40 AM
I had a promoter ask me this question last night so I figured I would toss it out there and get some of your expert opinions as well - "What would it take to make this contest (Smokin' on the Suwannee) the best contest out there?" Just a little background info- this is an FBA sanctioned event held in July in Live Oak, FL at the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park. We are entering our fourth year and the park manager has expressed interest in taking this contest up to the next level. Basically, we want to draw 100+ teams. I'm specifically looking for opinions on entry fee vs payback. FYI- this year we had 48 pro teams,our entry fee was $300 and we paid pack 12 grand plus the GC gets a free entry for the following year. Thanks in advance!

CivilWarBBQ
12-02-2011, 11:25 AM
It looks like you are returning 85% of the entry fees to the teams in prize money, which is quite generous. Not sure what you are asking, but if you are thinking of increasing the entry fee in order to increase the prize pool, I wouldn't go there personally.

Speaking for my team, the only way we will enter a contest where the entry fee is over $300 would be if the payouts are much higher and deeper than $15K.

Becoming "the best contest out there" involves much more than money. Focusing on making particpants (teams AND judges) feel appreciated goes farther than adding digits to the prize pool IMO.

Slamdunkpro
12-02-2011, 11:33 AM
From on what I saw on the website you don't have any major sponsors other than the park and you paid back 83% of the entry fees as prize money. That's an above average return based on my experience. For example last year Pork in the Park in Salisbury returned 66% of entry fees as prizes and they had a host of major corporate sponsors.

To me anything over 80% return is a good game.

warfrat
12-02-2011, 12:11 PM
It looks like you are returning 85% of the entry fees to the teams in prize money, which is quite generous. Not sure what you are asking, but if you are thinking of increasing the entry fee in order to increase the prize pool, I wouldn't go there personally.

Speaking for my team, the only way we will enter a contest where the entry fee is over $300 would be if the payouts are much higher and deeper than $15K.

Becoming "the best contest out there" involves much more than money. Focusing on making particpants (teams AND judges) feel appreciated goes farther than adding digits to the prize pool IMO.


Yeah, I agree about becoming the "best contest out there". There's definately a lot more to that than $... I tried to explain that to the promoter as well. Trust me, I don't want to raise the entry fee. I want to do the exact opposite. Lower the entry fee and raise the payback. We are just trying to figure out how much sponsor $ we would need in order to do something lucrative.

AUBBQ
12-02-2011, 12:57 PM
I think you’re on the way to making this contest “one of the best out there”. I really liked the location and your hospitality is second to none! This was a very well-run contest and one I would like to keep on the schedule every year. That said, $300 is the top of my range for an entry fee.

rksylves
12-02-2011, 02:19 PM
Live Oak is the furthest I will drive in 2012. Wouldn't miss it for anything (well, there are one or two reasons as evidenced by two years ago). Loved that 'coconut lemonade', hope that guy shows up again.

I personally think it already is one of the top events going. If the park wants to step up then maybe expand the area utilized and allow more teams to enter. Maybe set up a second cooking area for the backyards and possibly even put a second judging area close to them. The contest itself is great already, I would just basically make it bigger for more teams. Didn't you get max # of teams last year?

I wouldn't raise the entrance fee. Not just for my own reasons ($300 is my limit), but so that as many teams as possible enter.

Russ

hankf19
12-03-2011, 10:45 AM
As a promoter.. you have the right mix of entry fee and payout $$ to draw 100 teams.. Lake Havasu's goal is 100 this year, they had well over 70 last yr, their entry fee is right around $300 (they do an early bird for $250) and charge a little extra for larger spaces 25 x 25 is standard, but can get 25 x 50 for $75 extra -- there payout is $10,000.... Maybe you could say that the payout goes up at 75 teams to $17,500 and at 100 to $20,000.. - with 60 = $15,000..... this might get you a few extra teams.. Also just be consistent with your contest, make sure everyone has a good time, that way they'll come back yr in and out and your contest will grow... But be careful what you wish for, the larger the contest (50-60 teams is perfect in my opinion) the larger the headaches.. and the KCBS only rewards points up to 50 teams.. so 100 other than to say you did it, and the extra $$ to me, sacrifices quality, increases chances of having issues, and requires 3 times as many volunteers as a 50 team contest.. Oh if you pay out $50,000+ with a similar entry fee say $350-- you should get close to 100 teams -- Vegas gave away $100,000 and got 119 on it's 1st yr.. To do this you need major sponsorship $$...

TooSaucedToPork
12-04-2011, 11:50 AM
If you want to make the best contest out there it is all about relationships. Relationships with your teams, your judges, your spectators, and your sponsors.

DISCLAIMER : The following are a collection of ideas from many contests past, not specific to any one contest. so dont flame me organizers ;-)

Just a few ideas:

For the teams:

1) Be totally open and honest with the teams, if there is a problem with anything just let everyone know whats goin on, don't try to cover it up. This is the ABSOLUTE WORST thing you can ever do.

Give all your volunteers little notebooks and a pen. If someone asks them a question they don't know, have them repond, and I quote - "I don't know but I will find out" then they write it down. They then write down the answer given and that way there is no room for mis-translation or paraphrasing.

Organize a potluck or pizza party for teams the night before the contest

A contest here in Western New York gives teams FREE BEER WRISTBANDS...we all love cooking that comp - it rocks

if possible provide free services such as free ice and delivery, trash pickup at booths, and free coffee and donuts the morning of the comp.

Try to get 100% veteran CBJ

Set your prize money at what you did last year, then publically announce a scale increasing the prize pool per x number of teams over the prize money.


For the Public:

Peoples Choice - everyone loves this

When you advertise in Print, Radio, or TV - Make sure you state clearly - "due to health department regulations, teams can not give or sell bbq to spectators. We have many vendors available to provide BBQ to spectators." This will save YOU and the TEAMS many headaches from people getting mad at teams for not providing them with BBQ.

and to alievate the problem all together:

Develop a Free Booth Tour system like Memphis in May. The public wanted to be more involved, so about 10 years ago MIM started the "Cooker Caravan" where guides brought groups of 15 or so people to Teams Booths for a tour and question and answer period. The teams are asked if they want to participate (One 15 min tour a day) and gave a speech about BBQ and held a little question and answer section. Many sample some pork to the group, but you don't have to. Each tour group stays for 15 min and visits 2-3 booths. - Its fun for teams and for spectators.

For Judges:

Provide bottled water

Provide experienced table captians

For sponsors:

If legal in your organization - See if you can get some teams to volunteer to cook up food for your sponsors the night before the contest. (or remburse them at cost) Use the judging tent as a commisary, invite your sponsors and their families out for a BBQ Dinner. This will develop a relationship with the sponsor, and show them you appreciate their support. It could also get you more money next year :-D

warfrat
12-04-2011, 09:18 PM
a little more information about our venue...30 amp power, water, shaded sites, dump stations on site. Private showers and bath houses and clean bathrooms. We did a low country boil and a keg for the cook teams (and sponsors) this year on Friday night. It was awesome! Trash is never an issue...turn in is no more than two minutes walk for any team...if we expand to 100 teams, there still would not be more than a 5 min walk for any team. Plus, we would shuttle any teams that wanted/needed it.

TooSaucedToPork
12-04-2011, 09:31 PM
a little more information about our venue...30 amp power, water, shaded sites, dump stations on site. Private showers and bath houses and clean bathrooms. We did a low country boil and a keg for the cook teams (and sponsors) this year on Friday night. It was awesome! Trash is never an issue...turn in is no more than two minutes walk for any team...if we expand to 100 teams, there still would not be more than a 5 min walk for any team. Plus, we would shuttle any teams that wanted/needed it.

Sounds like ya'll have a great contest. Just keep doin what you are doin, build a reputation and relationship with as many teams as possible. The best way to gain more teams is by word of mouth. If there is nothing but good things to say about your comp, then you will get more apps as teams talk about you with their friends.

Rub
12-04-2011, 09:56 PM
It's a great contest! Any chance of getting a Southern rock festival happening in the amphitheater? :thumb:

I think your contest will continue to grow as we spread the word.

warfrat
12-04-2011, 09:58 PM
It's a great contest! Any chance of getting a Southern rock festival happening in the amphitheater? :thumb:

I think your contest will continue to grow as we spread the word.

a VERY STRONG chance! :wink: