The Big Get Bigger

Between now and Saturday, I will re-read the regulations and judging procedures of the Kansas City Barbeque Society as part of my preparation for being a judge at the Big BBQ Bash in Maryville. This is the first year that the event is sanctioned by KCBS, but the fourth year that I will be involved. I was a judge in 2011 and 2012 and a table captain in 2013.

Speaking of re-reading, I looked up my blog posts from each of the previous events. Here are the highlights:

POSTED JUNE 12, 2011
Big BBQ Bash - sign outside The Shed It was obvious from the packet of instructions for the judges that the organizers of the Big BBQ Bash knew what they were doing. I’ve been invited to judge a few cooking contests over the years. Usually the instructions are to choose which entry deserves first place, second place and so on. The judges can then argue among themselves for or against a particular dish.

At the Big BBQ Bash, the instructions reminded me of contests that are sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbeque Society, such as the Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitational Barbecue in Lynchburg. Chris Flynn, one of the organizers, told me they had in fact contacted the folks at “The Jack” for some advice.

The contest was held on Saturday at Smoky Mountain Harley-Davidson in Maryville. It was a fundraiser for the Helen Ross McNabb Center. The judges were from an assortment of local businesses. Taz Cable had been invited to judge and he asked if I could also be included. It was great to judge “real” barbeque: chicken, ribs and pulled pork. Because I am not KCBS certified, I was only eligible to judge the extraneous categories like “Anything Bush’s Beans” at Sevierville’s Bloomin’ BBQ & Bluegrass festival last month.

Big BBQ Bash - Parton's Smokin' Butz Big BBQ Bash - Uncultured Swine For me, a big part of the fun of attending barbeque contests is the names of the teams. I also like to see the huge smokers they tow from one contest to the next. Parton’s Smokin’ Butz BBQ had a great looking trailer. Uncultured Swine had the funniest name and logo. Two well-known local businesses, Alcoa and Sharpie entered teams as well. The judging was blind. I don’t know who cooked the chicken and ribs that I liked best.

Big BBQ Bash - Men's Room in The Shed Big BBQ Bash - Women's Room in The Shed The judging was done in a nice room adjacent to The Shed. It could have been used as a green room for the artists or as a smaller performance space. Between rounds, I needed to wash the barbeque sauce off my face and hands. I had to stop and really study the rest room signs before going in. As far as I could tell, the men’s and women’s rooms were labeled in Klingon.

POSTED JUNE 17, 2012
2012 Big BBQ Bash - pulled pork being chopped Father’s Day weekend is a great time for a BBQ contest. For the second consecutive year, I was invited to be a judge at the Big BBQ Bash in Blount County, which benefits the Helen Ross McNabb Center. We tasted chicken, ribs, pulled pork and “anything but” entries from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturday. Each table of judges got different items. My table sampled some tasty macaroni & cheese balls during the last round, which involves “anything but” chicken or pork that is cooked on the grill.

2012 Big BBQ Bash - Dirty Ol' Butt Slappers t-shirt 2012 Big BBQ Bash - Boared Out of My Mind tent Before the 9:15 a.m. judges’ check-in, I took a walk around the property at Smoky Mountain Harley-Davidson to look at the team tents. One of my favorite things about BBQ contest is the punny team names. I remembered Uncultured Swine from last year. This year I also spotted Dirty Ol’ Butt Slappers and Boared Out of My Mind.

POSTED JUNE 22, 2013
All I wanted for dinner on my birthday was a salad with Bran Buds as croutons. After eating dinner at The Cheesecake Factory on Friday, I served as a Table Captain for the judges at the Big BBQ Bash in Maryville on Saturday afternoon.

Although I didn’t eat as much meat as the judges, I had ample opportunities to sample the leftovers at the grazing table. Before the first turn-in, I chatted with Chris Grove of, who recently returned from a beef ranch in Montana. He briefly mentioned the topic of digestion and I suggested that he too could benefit from trying Bran Buds.

By next year, the BBQ Bash will be a KCBS sanctioned event. Many of the judges and participants became Certified Barbeque Judges on June 1. For most of us, our name tags and membership cards arrived in the mail on Friday.

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