BBQ in Bulk: Judging the Sam’s Club National BBQ Tour

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For those of you keeping up with the competition circuit, you’re probably aware of the Sam’s Club National BBQ Tour.  Sam’s Club has partnered with KCBS in putting on a BBQ tournament.  Teams compete in 25 local and regional contests throughout the country for the opportunity to travel to Bentonville, AR to compete in a national contest.  With over $400,000 in total prize money dispersed at all of the events, many teams jumped at the chance to enter.

I was able to get in and judge at the Greensboro, NC contest.  This contest was a feeder to the regional event in Laurel, MD.  Thirty teams were present at this event (as is the case for all local Sam’s Club events).  Since my wife had to be in Raleigh by 9:00am, we decided to carpool.  What does this mean?  I got there WAY ahead of the 9:30am start for judges check-in.  I was able to go around and get a few pictures.

Later that morning, several of us judges assisted in putting together the trophies for this competition.

Now on to the food!  Overall, I thought the food was about on par for a good competition.  There were some entries that were middle of the road, and there were some entries that were absolutely excellent!  Only one of the entries was below what I expected for good competition BBQ.

For the event itself, I was concerned that there would just be the focus on the competition aspect.  However, when I arrived, I found at least 3 or 4 different entities there that were either demoing cooking or touting the heavenly qualities of meat.  In between judging entries, I peeked outside of the judging area and saw steady crowds checking out the area.  So my worries were for naught.

If you want to view more photos taken at the event, you can go to the photo album on my Facebook page.  All in all, the event went well!  Big thanks to the organizers, Jerry and Joyce Gardner, as well as the KCBS representatives, Don and Debbie Harwell.  This event was lucky in that the organizers had ample time to work out any kinks demonstrated at earlier events in the series.  Would I want to judge this again?  Yeah, I would.