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Competition BBQ *On Topic Only* Discussion regarding all aspects of Competition BBQ. Experiences competing or visiting, questions, getting started, Equipment, announcements of events, Results, Reviews, Planning, etc. Questions here will be responded to with competition BBQ in mind.


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Old 06-17-2011, 02:05 PM   #1
jcpetro97
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Default Competition Equipment Advice

So after talking to some folks, and attending the Roc City Ribfest, I have decided to take the plunge into Competition. I took a few classes, and have asked some questions, but like anyone, definitely don't want to wear out my welcome.

So next year, I am planning on entering a single-entry event or two. I am starting to get the equipment I am going to need, but I am kinda on the fence, so I wanted to see what you all had to say.

I am thinking about getting a WSM for competition, but I am struggling as to whether I would need the 22.5" or the 18.5" model. Any thoughts here?

Also, any other equipment you think is a must-have ( name brands not needed ) would be greatly appreciated. I am starting to put together my list of stuff I think I need, so I can get it all gradually over the course of the summer.

Finally, I wanted to know what you all thought about proper etiquette in terms of using various rubs,etc. I have been messing around with some rubs I bought, and some are sold by various competition teams. Is there any issues with using a rub you have purchased, even if sold by another team? Does credit need to be given or anything like that? I definitely wouldn't want to get anyone upset first time out..

Thanks for the advise, and I look forward to being a more active participant here on the forums....
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Old 06-17-2011, 02:13 PM   #2
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I'd get the bigger WSM.........pretty rare that you hear someone say "I wish I had less space". If you can afford it, go bigger.

Best advice I had seen on what you need at a comp, is do a cook %100 in your back yard, everything you have to go into the house for, write down and take it with you to the comp. Plus anything you need to get through various weather situations.

Use any sauce and rub you want, no credit needs to be given, although if it was one you bought, the producer usually likes to hear when you do well.

Good luck out there.
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Old 06-17-2011, 02:16 PM   #3
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agree 100% with the above post
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Old 06-17-2011, 02:37 PM   #4
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I compete on 4 18.5" WSMs, one for each meat category, and it works well for me. If you are only going to use 1, get the 22.5".

Other comp "must haves" would include canopy, tables, coolers, lighting, bus tubs,etc... I have all of my comp stuff seperated into 4 Rubbermaid type storage bins, and I place them on a small plastic shelving unit that disassembles easily. Really helps to keep the site organized. (See attached checklist)

As far as using commercial rubs, I use some in competition and I use some of my own. Last week we got two calls, and both were in categories where I use my own rub. I also use commercially available sauces. We walked with one homemade and one commercial.

But everything we use in a comp is a Brethren product, and I will only use products made by the Brethren.

Good luck, you won't regret trying.
Attached Files
File Type: xls comp checklist 2011.xls (32.5 KB, 75 views)
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Old 06-17-2011, 08:56 PM   #5
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I know a lot of teams that compete with 3 or 4 of the 18" WSMs, but for us 2 22" WSMs has worked well cooking brisket, ribs and pork. Last year, we used a kettle for chicken, but upgraded to an 18" WSM this year. I would suggest getting something right away and use the summer to practice your cooking procedures and timing. Take good notes, develop a timeline with every step in your process documented and when it comes time for competition you'll be glad you did. Normally, I dont need it much anymore, but at our last comp I was so hungover, I would have been lost without it .

Don't sweat using commercial rubs and sauces. Just dont be afraid to mix different flavors and make something uniquely your own. But as others have said, if you start doing well, make sure to let the rub/sauce makers know about it.

Other than that, I think others have made some great suggestions of things you will need: EZ up and invest in walls for these too, folding tables, some kind of PVC pipe to raise those tables up, coolers (you can use these to rest your meats as well), hose, extension cords, lights (we use clip on lights to hang over the prep table), cutting boards, beer (very important) or some other adult beverage of choice, lots of foil and foil pans, nitrile gloves, grill (welding) gloves, meat thermometer, pit thermometer, fire extinguisher, chimney and something to light your charcoal (some use a turkey fryer or a weed burner), etc., etc....yeah it's an expensive hobby.

Most of all, have a great time and be prepared to be hooked! This site is a great source of info and you will find once you do get to your first comp that other teams will be very helpful. Good luck!
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Old 06-18-2011, 09:16 AM   #6
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Not a whole lot I could add to the posts already given. I started competing this year and have only done two comps so far using 2 22.5 WSM's. What I've found out is there is no wrong way to go about competing. Everyone has various degree's of equipment and cooking styles. Devise what works best for you during your back yard practices. Work on having everything ready to meet the turn in times and above all have fun. There are so many great people competing who are willing to share advice, a cold beer, and good cheer. Good luck to you. Keep us informed on your progress. The folks on this forum are always willing to offer assistance.
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Old 06-18-2011, 12:58 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stacks View Post
Not a whole lot I could add to the posts already given. I started competing this year and have only done two comps so far using 2 22.5 WSM's. What I've found out is there is no wrong way to go about competing. Everyone has various degree's of equipment and cooking styles. Devise what works best for you during your back yard practices. Work on having everything ready to meet the turn in times and above all have fun. There are so many great people competing who are willing to share advice, a cold beer, and good cheer. Good luck to you. Keep us informed on your progress. The folks on this forum are always willing to offer assistance.
+1000 This is great advise!!
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Old 06-18-2011, 01:51 PM   #8
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If you haven't taken a food and sanitation course I recommend picking up a book on proper food handling. A lot of the information might seem like common sense but I was at comp recently and I observed a lot of poor food handling. Nothing worse than getting someone sick with your food.
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Old 06-18-2011, 02:22 PM   #9
TN_BBQ
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Have you ever participated in any capacity at a BBQ event (sanctioned or otherwise)? Judging? Helper? etc.?

No requirement, I'm just curious because I know a lot of folks garner lots of valuable info about competitions from judging, attending, and/or hooking up with another team and letting them mentor you (you can probably find a team right here on this forum).
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Old 06-18-2011, 03:12 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TN_BBQ View Post
Have you ever participated in any capacity at a BBQ event (sanctioned or otherwise)? Judging? Helper? etc.?

No requirement, I'm just curious because I know a lot of folks garner lots of valuable info about competitions from judging, attending, and/or hooking up with another team and letting them mentor you (you can probably find a team right here on this forum).
Even if you cant judge or participate with another team, if there's any way you can go to one early, and I mean get there before dawn, on Saturday and watch a team or two (you can stay back a few yards and not be bothersome). You'll learn a TON.
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Old 06-21-2011, 10:19 AM   #11
jcpetro97
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First of all.. thanks everyone for the great advice! There is a lot of really good information here, and I am trying to absorb it all...

As for the last two questions/comments from TN_BBQ and LAKE_DOGS. I spent some time the last couple of years walking through the competition areas at the Roc City festival, trying to absorb as much as I could. But I didn't go in before the park was open, so I wasn't seeing as much of the prep stages.

I am pretty much going into this next year looking to get some experience, and to have a great time! At the end of the day, if I am not having any fun, then there is no reason to do it. I look for every excuse to que from the spring, through fall, and I have learned something new each time. I am looking forward to competing next year.
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Old 06-21-2011, 01:11 PM   #12
Lake Dogs
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> am thinking about getting a WSM for competition, but I am struggling as to
> whether I would need the 22.5" or the 18.5" model. Any thoughts here?

I'm not personally a WSM guy, but I've always felt that if you can afford the larger one, get it. You'll always find a way to use the extra space, and it would be a real ***** to not have enough space...


> Also, any other equipment you think is a must-have ( name brands not needed )
> would be greatly appreciated. I am starting to put together my list of stuff I
> think I need, so I can get it all gradually over the course of the summer.

10x10 canopy. You're just starting out, so you could get bye with a cheap one. Make sure you bring something to anchor it down with. MANY good teams learn early on they'll need extra water so the 5 gallon water buckets full tied to the tent make great anchors and give you water right there in case you need it.

6' tables. We use 3 of them, but you can do with just 1. I highly recommend, unless you're 5' tall, to get some PVC pipe to bring them up a few inches, perhaps as much as a foot. Your back will be KILLING you if not.

Read carefully the rules of the competition. Most will require that you bring a fairly heavy duty (not the small ones) fire extinguisher, some require hand sanitizer, you'll probably need some gloves (not latex; get nitrile).

Then, like they said above, practice and make note of everything you touch (equipment wise). Bring that.


> Finally, I wanted to know what you all thought about proper etiquette in terms
> of using various rubs,etc. I have been messing around with some rubs I bought,
> and some are sold by various competition teams. Is there any issues with using
> a rub you have purchased, even if sold by another team? Does credit need to
> be given or anything like that? I definitely wouldn't want to get anyone upset
> first time out..


Unless you're sponsored, then no, there are no problems whatsoever in using over-the-counter products and not giving any credit.
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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.

Last edited by Lake Dogs; 06-21-2011 at 02:11 PM..
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Old 06-21-2011, 03:18 PM   #13
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Some Specifics- with Name Brand-
Thermopen
EZ Up or Caravan Pop-up (there may be others, but these are high quality and very durable)
Cambro Coolers

Better to buy once, then to buy cheap stuff and upgrade later...
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Old 06-21-2011, 04:23 PM   #14
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Bring lots and lots of paper towels. I always seem to run out!
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Old 06-21-2011, 04:55 PM   #15
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If you have time this summer take a judging class and judge a few contests. You can see and taste what the other teams are turning in. This will give you a good idea on how to do your turn in boxes and taste some different flavor profiles.
Good Luck!
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