Originally Posted by bbq.tom
Still hoping that CivilWarBBQ will answer with his criteria of how he would "pick the best pigs".
Sorry for the delay - I've been caught up in the whirlpool lately.
I admit I do things a bit differently than most organizers. Unlike many, I'm out on the circuit cooking or judging every month from April to December, so I have the advantage of getting to know quite a few of the active judges in the AL/GA/TN area personally. There is no better experience than judging alongside someone to get a feel for their approach.
However, you can't know everybody, so I give judges the opportunity to sell themselves on the application. You can see the app to the current show in Euharlee here: http://www.euharlee.com/events_bbq.aspx
Some write several paragraphs, some just a line or two. A few write nothing at all.
I select all the judges myself and distribute them to the tables. Judges are kept in the loop and know what their role and seating assignment will be before they show up at the contest. My goal is to create tables that are as balanced as possible so that scores are "table neutral", ensuring each entry will be scored consistently regardless of which table it lands on. To this end I strive to have equal distribution of the following across the tables:
New Judges (<5 events)/Master Judges, Women/Men, Locals/Long Distance, Youngsters/Seniors
Balancing tables is more of an art than a science, and you have to work with whatever applications you have that year. Luckily for me, here in Georgia we typically have 4-5 apps for every judging postition at our contests, so there is no shortage of CBJs.
In a perfect world, I like to see each table contain one Master, one newbie, and then a good spread of experience across the other four seats in the 5 -20 contests judged range. I don't like double-duty scenarios, so I put a Certified Table Captain at each table with six dedicated judges. In advance of notifying the judges of selections, I send the entire list to my Rep team and allow them to choose who they want to work the turn-in table, as experience and trust are crucial in this area.
Typically I configure for one table of judges for every six teams signed up, plus one. For a 36 team contest, this means seven tables. The judges on the last table are told they will be the standby pool and may or may not get to judge. On the day of the event, I make the call as to whether to use all of the tables or cut one, based on the number of teams that are there (last minute cancellations and additions are inevitable) and if I have any no shows in the main judging tables. If the situation demands it, I cannabalize the extra table to fill holes in the other tables and put any leftover judges to work on the grazing table, etc. Usually we run all of the tables however.
We state up front that NO FOOD LEAVES THE JUDGING TENT at all of the events I supervise. I firmly believe this is the best approach and putting out there up front gives those folks who want to bring a cooler to the judging tent to move on to another contest. We're looking for judges who take their job seriously, regardless of their experience level, and who are interested in interacting with teams and spending time enjoying the entire event. In return, I work hard to do everything I can to make the experience a pleasant one.
This is the approach I've gradually developed over the years of organizing events, and it seems to work so far. Many thanks to the late great Terrell Jones who taught me that the maintaining high quality of judging is one of the most important aspects of organizing a contest.