PLEASE NOTE: These questions and answers are intended for your personal use only and are the opinion of the author of this website. They DO NOT reflect the opinion of the International Barbecue Cookers Association (IBCA), its subsidiaries, or its members. If ANY of the text on this page is reproduced ANYWHERE, it *MUST* be accompanied by this disclaimer.

Questions & Answers

Q: What does it mean for a contest to be sanctioned?
A: A sanctioned contest, regardless of organization, means that a contest has agreed to conform to the rules set out by a particular sanctioning body. These rules involve both cooking and judging, as well as the final awards.
A sanctioning body typically sets out GUIDELINES for contest promoters to follow in terms of the types of pits used for cooking, types of heat sources, types of meats to be cooked for the contest, and cuts of these meats to be used, as well as RULES for the judging of the product and awarding of prizes.
When a contest is said to be sanctioned, that means that the contest promoter has agreed that the guidelines/rules of a particular sanctioning body will be followed at that contest.

Q:What is a State Championship?
A: A BBQ contest can also have a State Championship designation. This is NOT the same thing as being sanctioned; a contest DOES NOT have to have a State Championship designation to be SANCTIONED.
A State Championship Proclamation is simply a statement, signed by the current governor or legislature of a state, that says that a particular contest has been designated as a State Championship. Initially, the likely purpose of this designation was to suggest that the contest winner was the best in that state. However, as time went on, a State Championship proclamation was used by some invitational contests in determining who was eligible for that contest.
For instance, for a contest's Grand Champion to have their name entered in the the draw for the Jack Daniels World BBQ Championship, it is required by those at Jack Daniels that all contests from which those Grand Champions came were designated as state championships.

Q:How do I join the Louisiana Pit/Louisiana BBQ Cookers Association (LABCA)?
A: You must join IBCA (International BBQ Cookers Association) first. When you join, you will be given the choice of a "Pit" (local group) to join - indicate that you want to join the LA Pit.

Q:How big is the Louisiana Pit?
A: Currently (as of 2/4/2013) there are 62 members in the LA Pit.
The Louisiana Pit currently geographically includes all of Louisiana plus a section of MS.

Q:Are all the members of the LA Pit residents of LA?
A: No. Currently, 30% of our membership is from outside of LA (29% TX, 1% elsewhere). You don't have to be a LA resident to be an LA Pit member! When you join IBCA, you will be given a choice of which Pit you would like to join; if you don't specify one, generally you will be placed in the Pit closest to your residence (e.g. if you live in LA and don't indicate what Pit you would like to join, you will be assigned membership in the LA Pit). If you would like to join more than one Pit, you are welcome to - the cost is $10/Pit and this needs to be indicated on your IBCA membership form.

Q:What is the advantage to joining a particular Pit?
A: Membership in a Pit allows a head cook to win extra cash at that Pit's Added Money Event. An Added Money Event is usually one contest in a particular Pit, usually selected by the Pit Boss, where in addition to the money given out as prizes by the contest, additional funds are distributed to winning Pit members. These additional funds come from the membership dues of all those who are members of that Pit. For instance, in 2012, the LA Pit held its Added Money Event at the Ponchatoula contest. A total of $1200 was distributed to winning contest participants who were also LA Pit members.

Q:How many IBCA contests are there in LA every year?
A: In general, between 10-20 contests. For 2013, there are 10 IBCA contests which have occurred or are currently scheduled for the LA Pit, and 4 other IBCA contests whose dates are not yet finalized for this year.

Q: What is the LA Pit Points Chase?
A: The LA Pit Points Chase is a contest among LA Pit head cooks. Points are awarded at each LA Pit contest by IBCA for the purpose of determining a Grand Champion for the contest; these points accumulate and the best 5 contest scores for each LA Pit member are tallied. The head cook with the greatest number of points by the end of the calendar year is declared the Points Chase winner at the LA Pit awards dinner, held in January of each year. The LA Pit Points Chase and the Best New Head Cook are sponsored by The Daigle Family Company, Wee Wisdom Preschool of Sulphur, LA, and JAC's Tailgaters for 2013.

For contest organizers/promoters:


Q: Should I have an amateur contest before I sanction my contest?

A: First, in competition BBQ, there is no such thing as a "professional" or "amateur" BBQ cook; some folks may be able to compete more than others, some can afford more expensive BBQ gear than others, but when you come down to it, a BBQ cook is a BBQ cook. "Sanctioned" does NOT mean professional!

Q: I have to have big money awards if I'm having a sanctioned contest, right? Competition BBQ cooks expect/demand a certain payout, yes?

A: NO, sanctioned does NOT mean you've got to give away money! All sanctioning does is give a consistent set of rules; some of the things a sanctioning body does is help the promoter made sure the rules are followed and assure that the contest is fair.
BBQ cookers are some of the most charitable and giving people you'll ever find! The main thing they expect from a BBQ contest, in terms of money, is that it be REASONABLE - if they pay an entry fee of, say, $100, they expect to be able to win at least that in the contest.

Q: Do I have to attend a sanctioned contest before I can get my contest sanctioned?

A: While it would be a good idea for you to attend a contest sanctioned by the same body that you're using for you contest and is STRONGLY SUGGESTED, no, it is NOT required by IBCA. Some other sanctioning bodies may require it - check with the organization sanctioning your contest.

Q: What's the deal with a state championship proclamation? Isn't that just a rubber-stamp from the governor or the legislature? What does that have to do with BBQ?

A: A state championship proclamation is a statement from a state governor or state legislature stating that the event is noted as a State Championship. If the event doesn't have 50+ teams, the State Championship Proclamation will allow the Grand Champion to have a chance to be drawn by the Jack Daniels Invitational if the criteria of 15 teams the first year and then 25 teams thereafter is met.

Q: What are the typical costs for a sanctioned BBQ contest?

A:About any sanctioning body will charge the following:

Sanctioning fee ($25-$400)($25 for IBCA as of 2/7/2013)
1(-2) night(s) lodging for the sanctioning body's representative(s)(if one of your sponsors is a local motel, this is a good way for them to donate to the contest!)
Mileage at the current standard IRS rates for the sanctioning body's representative(s)' travel ($0.565 as of 1/1/2013)
Judging boxes/clamshells/styrofoam boxes/"takeout" boxes

Some may also require:

Per diem (usually at the current government rate)(see IRS Publication 1542)
Fee for ancillary contests/categories (i.e. Kid's Que, sauce, "cook's choice", dessert, etc.)

It is ALWAYS a good idea to talk with your sanctioning body and find out exactly what the costs for your contest will be BEFORE the contest!

Some questions you will need to answer for your particular contest:

How many cook teams are you expecting for your contest?

What are your goals for the contest?

How many teams need to participate for you to meet your fundraising goals?

Who do you want, and who do you expect to be cooking in your contest?

How did you arrive at the registration fee you chose for your contest? Is it in line with the prizes that you offer?

How are you getting the word out/recruiting cookers for your contest?

Is your contest being held at the best time of year for you to meet your goals?

For IBCA BBQ judges:


Q: Do I have to have a judging certificate or be specially certified to judge at an IBCA contest?

A: No. IBCA uses the general public to judge BBQ. This is because most IBCA contests are usually held in conjunction with a fair or festival and there are already people there. The qualifications for judging BBQ are that you need to love BBQ to start with, and that you are at least 18 years of age. You will be instructed by the IBCA head judge on what criteria to use to judge the BBQ.

Q: How do I go about arranging (in advance) to judge a BBQ contest?

A: The best thing to do is to contact the organizer/promoter and let them know you're interested in judging. They will give you information on when to be there and any other specifics they might have.

Q: But I just want to judge ribs(or just chicken, or just brisket) - is that ok?

A: Sure! Again, make sure you let the organizer/promoter know, but in general, it's suggested that you judge only one category; this is because of the amount of food you're likely to sample. Remember, you're there to sample and not have lunch, but still, having to taste each box of product presented to you, in a 30 team contest, means that you're likely to have around 15 boxes to taste - and that can be a LOT of food! You are welcome to judge more that one category - but you CANNOT judge both preliminaries and finals for the same category (or prelimninaries, semifinals and finals or preliminaries, quarterfinals, semifinals and finals in larger contests)

Q: I am a certified BBQ judge in another organization. Can I judge an IBCA contest?

A: Certainly! BBQ is BBQ; in general, the criteria as to what's good BBQ is the same. IBCA judging requires the use of a knife and fork, though.

Q: I'm over 18, but my kids aren't - can they be in the judging area?

A: If they don't create a distraction or cause problems while you're judging, it shouldn't be a problem to have them there. Always check with your head judge to make sure.

Q: Can I bring a beer into the judging area?

A: You are welcome to bring the beer there, but please don't be offended if you are asked to keep it on a side table (or somewhere else) while you're judging - the judging table itself often gets rather crowded once judging starts. Also, while you are judging, please drink only water, as beer, wine and/or soft drinks will cloud your palate. Please cleanse your palate between samples with the condiments on the table - ususally crackers, cheese, pickles, grapes, or carrots.

Q: That was really good BBQ! Can I take some home with me?

A: Remember that about half the boxes will go from the preliminary table to the final table and be judged again, but there will be some samples left over that didn't go on to the next round. What happens to these boxes is up to the organizer/promoter - often, they are given to the festival volunteers. The organizer/promoter has usually instructed the head judge as to what to do with the boxes that didn't go on to the final round - the head judge will tell you whether or not you are welcome to take the "leftovers". Also, the winning boxes, with their contents, are saved and displayed to the cookers after the awards for their tasting(so they are able to see what was required in the contest of the winning product) - once the cookers are finished with their analysis and the organizer/promoter is done with them as well, the public is welcome to the boxes and their contents.

Still have questions? Click HERE to contact us.