One of the teams was hosting a pot luck that I got an invite to, so I showed up about 6:30 pm Friday with a large platter of various flavors of cheeses that I had cold smoked earlier that week. There must have been 50 people or more who showed up and so many different foods that I lost track of who brought what - but it was all very good! Every one had a great time eating, laughing, talking, and yes, having a beverage or two :>)
After the pot luck I wandered around visiting & meeting new friends untill about 11:30 pm. Now, let me explain that KCBS rules say that there is to be NO fraternizing with the teams (or drinking) the day of judging until judging is over. I take that to mean that I had better be gone from the comp area & on my way to my fifth wheel trailer by midnight; that's my personal deadline. Anyway, I was pulling out of the parking lot right at midnight, heading for "home."
The next morning (Saturday) I was up & at Sam's Club a little after 9 am, well before the 10 am meeting. I'm kinda on the large side and I like to grab an end seat if I can. It not only gives me more room but my fellow judges aren't so squashed together, either. The weather forecast was just one word for Saturday: HOT!!! And we were judging on an asphalt parking lot under a big tent with no A/C. We did have two large fans set up, one at each end of the tent with one blowing air in & the other pulling air out. So we did have a breeze and that sure helped a lot! Before we started the judging the organizer, Mike Lake, asked if I could help him roll up some of the tent side panels for more air - I was all over that :>)
Now, on to the judging. Out of 30 teams there were at least 20 who had won a Grand Championship in the past and the quality of the food reflected that. Almost every entry earned at least a 7 in each criteria: appearance, taste & tenderness/texture. If I remember right I gave at least one perfect (9-9-9) score and quite a few got all 8s & 9s - this was a very tough field of cooks. About the only really bad entry was one box of ribs that just had no flavor - kinda like most of the resturaunt ribs out there - and they left the membrane on!
All in all, this was one of the best comps that I've judged. The cooking spots were decent sized, power seemed adequate and there was always someone coming around to pick up the trash or ask if you needed ice or anything. There was plenty of room in the judging tent, the fans did a good job, lots of bottled water on ice. The judges were all there on time, the meeting started on time, everything went just like it should ... which doesn't always happen :>)
-- Dave Compton