Originally Posted by daninnewjersey
Well, for whatever it's worth I've been in 3 comps. The first (Wildwood, NJ), I decided to do the ribs I sell in the farmer's market. I learned hard and fast that's NOT what the judges look for. By the third comp (Atlantic City this past October) I placed 28th out of 85 teams (not great compared to a lot of guys on here but I was stoked). The only thing I did was go with the flow and sweeten my ribs up a bit (and learned to cut the ribs so they all looked the same). There's NO WAY I would consider selling those comp ribs at the market (far too much time and effort involved)....but it's obvious to me comp ribs need to be sweeter...
Region has a lot to do with it as well. Living in Northwest Louisiana there's A LOT of east Texas influence here and "sweet" BBQ of any kind (not just ribs) to the general public around these parts is not popular at all. Whether the sweetness comes from the rub, sauce or both.
But most folks around here (and I'm the same way) do not eat ribs with sauce anyway. The dry rub and smoke is king. It is very common to hear the statement "If you have to put sauce on your ribs then they're not very good to begin with." Granted, it's all about preference and that's what makes BBQ great. There's not just one way to prepare and eat it.