Have you ever been to a community or town festival, smelled wood, smoke and meat, gotten hyped, then suffered the ultimate disappointment when told you couldn't have any of what was cookin'? Sadly, this is the experience of many attendees of barbecue cook-offs around the great state of Texas.
When sanctioned, cook-offs are really more about the competitors than the public. Winners earn points toward a Kansas City Barbecue Association (KCBA) championship, or an International Barbecue Cookers' Association (IBCA) championship, and in Texas, of course we have the Lonestar Barbecue Society (LBS), which sanctions events in Texas and surrounding states. Rarely in events sanctioned by any of these bodies is there a "People's Choice" category. And it usually has something to do with liability related to giving the public food that has no opportunity to be officially inspected (boooooooo, liability).
Yet, as we Texans have proven time and time again, where there is a will, there is a way. What follows is a look at cook-offs happening in DFW and the surrounding area this spring and summer, and though "public tasting" is not on the menu at most, many competitions need upwards of 200 individual judges who are often pulled from members of the general public in attendance. We've tried to highlight the cook-offs at which members of the public might get a taste.
April 18 Terrell Heritage Jubilee Barbecue Cook-Off, State Championship, Ben Gill Park, Terrell, TX. Website: www.terrelltexas.com. In association with the Terrell Heritage Jubilee Festival, only judges may taste the barbecue.
April 17-18 Haslet Wild West Fest BBQ Cook Off, Haslet Community Park, Haslet, TX. According to IBCA rules, the only tasting allowed is at the judges' table.
April 24 2nd Annual Big D BBQ Battle, Valley View Center parking lot, Dallas, TX, Open to public 5-9 PM, benefitting North Texas Food Bank, presented by North Dallas Chamber of Commerce
April 24-25 Colleyville Old Tyme Cook Off, Colleyville, TX. Contact: Kevin, 817-503-1222.There is a People's Choice category in this competition.
April 24-25 Real Texas BBQ Cook-Off, Mesquite Convention Center parking lot, Mesquite, TX. In association with Real Texas Festival, presented by the City of Mesquite, only judges may taste the barbecue.
April 24-25 Germanfest BBQ Cook-Off, Muenster, TX. Samples (wink wink) might be made available by individual contestants, and judges are needed. Website:www.germanfest.net.
April 24-26 Brazos River Rib Fest, McLane Stadium, Waco, TX. There is a People's Choice category in this competition. Tickets are $3 and may be purchased upon entry.
May 1-2 Pink Soles in Motion, Carrollton, TX.
May 2 Arlington Knights of Columbus #6269 Carnivore Cook-Off, Arlington, TX. Wristbands for the Fan Favorite category will be sold at the door. Judging/tasting starts at 11 AM. Benefitting the Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Fort Worth.
May 2 Covington Volunteer Fire Dept. Pig Out, 601 S. Main, Covington, TX. According to IBCA rules, tasting is only allowed at the judge's table, but more judges are needed and the opportunity is open to the public. Signup sheet available upon entry.
May 8-9 2nd Annual Sabine Shootout, TX State Championship, Edgewood, TX. Contact: Jeremy, 903-275-8166 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
May 9 Dr. Lanse T Fox Memorial Cook Off, 8930 CR 304, Terrell, TX. According to IBCA rules, the only tasting allowed is at the judge's table, but judges will be pulled from those in attendance. Benefits the Dr. Lanse T Fox Memorial Fund, which funds scholarships for students attending veterinary school.
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May 16 Red River BBQ Championship, Elks Lodge, 2526 S Commerce St., Ardmore, OK. According to IBCA rules, the only tasting allowed is at the judge's table, but more judges are needed and the opportunity is open to the public.
June 12-13 Camp Craig Allen 8th Annual Cookoff & Festival, Toyota Stadium, Frisco, TX. There is a People's Choice category in this competition.
Jul 31-Aug 1 Bikers, Blues & BBQ, Karem Shrine Waco, TX. Contact: Mark Rose, 254-216-1256. Benefits Love to the Rescue, which raises money for Shriners Hospitals. Still deciding whether to have a People's Choice category. Judges are needed, and the opportunity is open to the public.
Sept. 4-6 Bedford Blues & BBQ Labor Day Weekend Festival, Bedford, TX.