Here's one way that we do it in Iowa:
For the past two years a central Iowa BBQ team (Smokehouse 72) has sponsered what they call a "Frost Buster" compitition in the early spring of each year. There's no entry fee and no prize money - just a bunch of folks who love BBQ and want to get better at it. The thing about this comp is that the judges are encouraged to come out either Friday or early Saturday to visit with the cooks - right up until it's time to build the boxes!
That's right - we "fratranize" with the teams!!!
We come out and talk to the cooks before, durring and after they are preping & cooking their entries. The only thing that the judges can't see is the actual building of the turn-in box. We can (and do) ask plenty of questions about any and every thing involved. Most of the cooks will answer all of the questions, some will hold back a secret or two - no big deal either way.
All four KCBS meats are cooked, turned in and judged just as though this were a real comp with prize money and everything with just a couple of exceptions: all of each teams entries will be judged at the same table and the judges can (& do) make notes on the score sheets about the entries. Now comes the real fun part .....
We give the teams their scores verbally! Yep, each team is called in one by one and each judge gives his scores to the team while looking the cook right dead in the eye!
"I gave you a 7 in taste because ..." "You got a tad mushy on the pulled, that's what cost you a 9" ... et cetera.
Now, the cook can chime in any time that he wants to and ask any question that comes to mind - like "What do you mean the flavor was off - how was it "off"? ... "What can I do to make this 7 in appearance into an 8 or 9?"
See??? No more of "Why did he gave a 7?" This gives the cooks the answer to "What the #@(&! was he thinking?" And it also makes the judge justify his scores to the cook. All in all, not a bad deal!
Last year we had this at an RV campground where we all got a good camping rate because Ray & Jay (Smokehouse 72) know the folks there ... also because they were invited to the chili pot luck Friday night and were given some of the left overs by the cooks :>). In fact I do believe that they right then & there invited us back for the next year's "Frost Buster" in Colo, Iowa. We all had a blast, cooks and judges got to know each other, each got a tad more insight into where the other guy was coming from, and we found out that we didn't have to have the "animosity" between us!
Maybe some one else out there can take this idea & run with it. Maybe some contest organizer will talk to the cooks about sending an e-mail blast to the judges inviting them out on Friday evening or staying for the awards Saturday afternoon. Maybe we can all work together for the betterment of our sport.