> ... Are we "in the way" at comps
Absolutely, 100%, beyond any shadow of a doubt, you will NOT be in the way. Just the opposite, you'll meet new friends and should be welcomed to "the group".
> or do or will we be looked down on?
Again, NOT. Everyone started somewhere; and they all know it.
> I've spent money on smokers,banners,team logo, T-shirts but I really just
> want to cook and enjoy hanging out with other BBQ nuts like me.
Welcome to "the group". You'll do fine.
Hance - Lake Dogs Cooking Team - MiM/MBN/GBA CBJ and comp cook
Lake Sinclair, GA (strategically about an hour from darn near anywhere)
Started competing in chili cookoffs back in the 1990's and have competed in more than I care to count. I became a CBJ in MiM in 2005, then MBN and in GBA in 2010. I've probably judged 130+- BBQ comps (sanctioned and unsanctioned) over this time. That said, I really enjoy competing more than I enjoy judging, and hope to get back to doing 4 or 5 a year in the near future.