Enjoying good barbecue is easy. Learning how to judge it takes practice.
A Memphis In May-sponsored barbecue judging seminar will be Saturday by the Columbia County Recreation Department Advisory Board.
Memphis In May is a governing body that sanctions barbecue contests around the country, including the annual Veteran's Day Barbecue Cook-Off each November at the Columbia County Merchants Association Fairgrounds.
"When you have a barbecue contest you need someone to judge it," said Bobby Waters, chairman of the recreation advisory board. "What you have to do in order to judge a Memphis In May barbecue contest is you have to be a certified barbecue judge. So you have to go through a daylong training seminar on how to judge certain types of barbecue - the shoulders, the ribs and the whole hog."
The seminar will be from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Patriots Park. Space is limited to 60 people and the registration fee costs $50. It will be taught by Memphis In May representative Larry Young.
Sandy Johnson (left) marks her score sheet as fellow judge Alvin Meyer (right) gets his fingers ready for the next batch of ribs at the Veterans Day Barbeque Cookoff last year.
Photo by Jonathan Ernst
After completing the seminar, participants will be certified to judge any Memphis In May contest, including the local Veteran's Daycook-off, which Waters says is one of the reasons for holding the class.
"For every one contestant you need three judges, because it's three different categories," Waters said. "If you have 15 teams competing, like last year, you need at least 45 judges just to judge the preliminary contest. You also need an additional five or six judges for the finals, because preliminary judges cannot be judges for the finals to prevent against bias. Last year, we had 60 judges for 15 teams."
To help, two Memphis In May official barbecue cooking teams - The Smoke Shack from North Augusta and Exhausted Rooster from Augusta - will cook so seminar attendees can practice their judging skills.
For more information on the seminar, call the Columbia County Recreation Department at 868-3458.
For more information on Memphis In May, see their Web site at www.memphisinmay.org.
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