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Eatin Smoke
02-21-2012, 07:07 PM
I am really seeking advice from all the experts on here about entering BBQ Comps and how to get started. First off, I apologize for my ignorance....but how does a true amateur get started in competitions?

I have so many questions and really don't know where to begin but.....

1. Can / do amateurs enter Comps?
2. Do you have to be a member of KCBS?
3. Are there Backyard comps as part of the main event?
4. What is the best way to get started?

I would love the opportunity to compete and talk with the experts during a comp. I have been BBQing and smoking for @ 4 years and have so much to learn but have confidence in my ability and food.

Anyone willing to share any tips on how to get started? I would appreciate any info / advice you experts have to give to a true amateur. Thank you all in advance!!

Ron_L
02-21-2012, 07:16 PM
My first piece of advice... Don't do it. You'll be hooked :-D

Seriously, I'll answer your questions below, but one of the first things you should do is visit a competition near you and see what it's all about. Lots of brethren teams would be glad to let you hang out.


1. Can / do amateurs enter Comps?
Absolutely. That's how everyone started.
2. Do you have to be a member of KCBS?
For most competitions, no. Also, there are other sanctioning bodies besides KCBS.
3. Are there Backyard comps as part of the main event?
Yes. A lot of competitions have a backyard category and that's a great way to get started.
4. What is the best way to get started?
See above :)

gooose53
02-21-2012, 07:31 PM
Agree with Ron, goto a comp and talk to teams. I've never had a bad experience when I was seeing if this is what I wanted to do. I cooked all last two years on two 22.5 wsm's. Again, agree with Ron, don't do it because you'll get hooked bad!!!!

Capn Kev
02-21-2012, 07:38 PM
Here's a good reference document: http://kcbs.us/pdf/YourFirstCookoff.pdf

Alexa RnQ
02-21-2012, 07:42 PM
1. Can / do amateurs enter Comps?
Wellllll, considering that VERY few people make their living from BBQ competition, we're all amateurs in a sense! :becky: But in the sense of inexperience, yes, people often just jump in and get their feet wet. That's the way we started. BBQ people are readily willing to help new teams with a ton of advice and answers, so it's not as if you're dropped into a war zone. If you make all your turn-ins on time, learned something and had fun, it goes in the "W" column.

2. Do you have to be a member of KCBS?
You don't *have* to, except for the Sam's Club series, but I've always believed that if I was benefiting from an organization's structure and rules, that I should support it through membership. Whether competing in roses or BBQ, I've been a member of local and national organizations.

3. Are there Backyard comps as part of the main event?
Depends on the event and the organizer. Some backyard events are stand-alone, others are part of a regular sanctioned show. I've particularly enjoyed those combination shows where the backyard categories' results are announced before the "main" awards, so that the newer teams get their moment of recognition for their efforts by those teams that once stood in those same shoes.

4. What is the best way to get started?
There are lots of ways! As I said above, we just went in cold.

OR you could visit a contest, walk around on Friday night, look at all the different setups and cookers, and talk to teams when they're less busy. Coming back on Saturday morning will show you a lot more of the frenzied activity leading up to turn-ins, but teams will be less inclined to talk during crunch time.

OR you could take a KCBS judging class, and judge a few contests. It will give you a much better breakdown of how entries are judged, and what qualities are desired in each category. How you get that into the box, though, is something you'll have to practice on your own.

OR you could find a team willing to mentor you, or let you tag along to contests to work alongside them and observe their process.

You'll notice I don't list "take a class" among the first alternatives, and there's a reason for that. Until you've done a complete practice run at home, and gone through the whirlwind of activity at a contest or two, you are going to miss anywhere from some to a lot of what you're taught at class -- it goes right over your head. It's a lot of information all at once! That's what happened to us -- we took QN4U's introductory class, and had NO idea how green we were, even after having cooked a contest. We ended up taking the class multiple times, and you know we came away with something new each time that we just hadn't understood before.

All in all, if you go in with a good, relaxed attitude, are always ready to learn something (we still do at every contest), are ready to miss a little sleep and work harder than you ever thought you would at something "fun", and stick to the timeline that you've developed in practice, you'll more than likely have a blast.

Contracted Cookers
02-21-2012, 08:21 PM
just like diva said

TTNuge
02-21-2012, 08:41 PM
Here's a good reference document: http://kcbs.us/pdf/YourFirstCookoff.pdf

Just ignore the section on costs!

bmanMA
02-21-2012, 08:41 PM
+1 on judging a comp. Camp out if you can. See what it's all about.

jbrink01
02-21-2012, 08:46 PM
Find a contest or two close by. Take a look at the team lists when comp time gets near. Contact a brethren or two and ask if you can simply hang out and help clean up. Don't ask them anything about spices or sauces, just take it all in and help out. They'll help you plenty!

Eatin Smoke
02-21-2012, 08:46 PM
Just ignore the section on costs!

I thought those entry fees seemed a little off.

Disconnect
02-21-2012, 08:56 PM
Don't forget "Watch the first season of BBQ Pitmasters" :) Definitely go to local competitions and talk to teams.

MaximumJEFF
02-21-2012, 09:03 PM
Here's a good reference document: http://kcbs.us/pdf/YourFirstCookoff.pdf

I'm competing for the first time this weekend. This is a big help

Eatin Smoke
02-21-2012, 09:09 PM
I have a stupid question........

After turn in what do you do w/ all your leftover smoked meat? :confused::confused:

Rich Parker
02-21-2012, 09:12 PM
I have a stupid question........

After turn in what do you do w/ all your leftover smoked meat? :confused::confused:

Bring it home and eat it for lunch the next week, give it to family and friends, or sell it.

"Bone to Bark" BBQ
02-21-2012, 09:14 PM
I too am a comp rookie..... first comp coming up in April, and I had the same question a while back! Everyone pretty much said, eat it there, feed your team members, or wrap it up and take it home with you!

Ron_L
02-21-2012, 09:14 PM
BTW, there is a competition in Westmont, IL on Memorial Day weekend. That's not too far from you. They have a backyard division if you want to jump in, or you can come and visit. We'll be there along with a number of Brethren.

http://www.westmontbbq.com/

Also, the next weekend there is a competition at Fair Oaks Farm along I-65. A bunch of us will be there, too. I don't think they have a backyard division, however.

http://www.fofarms.com/milkcowmusicfestival/Music_Festival.html

Ron_L
02-21-2012, 09:15 PM
I have a stupid question........

After turn in what do you do w/ all your leftover smoked meat? :confused::confused:

Feed your friends and relatives or get a Foodsaver and vac-u-suck it for winter.

CivilWarBBQ
02-21-2012, 09:24 PM
I have a stupid question........

After turn in what do you do w/ all your leftover smoked meat? :confused::confused:

Use it to get sponsors. Feed your prospects and once they agree to hand over some cash, your sponsors.

You might want to check out a book called "Startin the Fire" by my friend George. It's a primer for folks wanting to get started in competition bbq. Not a cookbook, but a guide to the workings of contests for the uninitiated. You can pick up a copy at Amazon.

Eatin Smoke
02-21-2012, 09:26 PM
BTW, there is a competition in Westmont, IL on Memorial Day weekend. That's not too far from you. They have a backyard division if you want to jump in, or you can come and visit. We'll be there along with a number of Brethren.

http://www.westmontbbq.com/

Also, the next weekend there is a competition at Fair Oaks Farm along I-65. A bunch of us will be there, too. I don't think they have a backyard division, however.

http://www.fofarms.com/milkcowmusicfestival/Music_Festival.html

Thanks for the advice! Actually, I have been debating whether or not to enter the Fair Oaks comp. If I decide to hold off this year, I will definitely be there regardless just to meet and talk w/ everyone.

BC Squared
02-22-2012, 08:22 AM
We just jumped in cold....and what a ride it has been! Five years and two teams later, I think we are finally catching on!!

Big George's BBQ
02-22-2012, 10:44 AM
Definately get the book Startin the Fire. The pit master of Who Are Those Guys WATG wrote it