Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

BBQ My Way

April 4, 2012

BBQ: Judging barbecue isn't kids play

- — By Dave Lobeck

CNHI News Service

With spring now in full swing, many barbecue enthusiasts begin planning their warm-weather schedules around barbecue festivals and competitions.

If you have never attended a barbecue festival, make an

effort to check that off your “bucket list.” In my neck

of the woods we have the fourth annual “Smokin on the River BBQ, Blues and Brew Festival” June 15-16 in Jeffersonville, Ind, which is located across the Ohio River from Louisville, Ky.

Now let me ask you a question. Doesn't the title of this festival alone make you want to go? What is there not to like? Great barbecue, a beer competition, great music and for the first time, an opportunity for kids to enter their own grilling competition.

Sounds like a perfect way to spend a summer weekend to me, so you can certainly count on me being there.

And believe me, this is serious business. You will have more than 35 professional barbecue teams from all over the country setting up shop to compete for bragging rights and a piece of the $8,500 purse.

There is also a category for amateur teams, allowing any barbecue enthusiast the opportunity to compete.

Since this is a sanctioned Kansas City Barbecue Society event, the judging is very precise and exact.

The four categories are pork, chicken, brisket and ribs. The judges go through a training course on how to properly judge barbecue, right down to how the meat should come off the bone of a rib.

You know the saying “fall off the bone tender?” That's actually not good. That's a sign of an overcooked rib. The meat should be firmly attached, but pull from the bone easily when bitten into.

Oh, and judges take an oath. Yep, this is serious business.

When meats are delivered to the judging table they arrive in a white Styrofoam container. When the lid

is opened, many teams construct their meat entries so as to provide maximum “ta-da” impact.

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