BBQ Judge at the Pig Fest! January 25, 2014

We are in Lakeland, Florida, home of the annual Lakeland Pig Fest. The big day is Saturday but Friday evening we walked through the event to find out what was there. I love pulled pork, so I bought a dish of mac and cheese topped with pulled pork, which is a great way to combine two of my favorite foods. Randy showed me the area where he would be judging BBQ on Saturday, and suddenly he was asked to judge an event that night. He said OK, so I got to hang around and see what goes on at a professional BBQ tasting. They start by making sure everyone is on the same page by going over the rules. This is important stuff; careers and lots of money can be on the line so everyone wants the judges to be as impartial and fair as possible. Before tasting starts, they all stand up and pledge to do exactly that.
Each table has a "Captain" who doesn't judge; his/her job is to present the samples to the others at the table. Then the judging starts. They did 3 separate types of judging that night, which took almost 2 hours.

The next day Randy went back early to judge the children's entries, followed by the Backyard BBQ entires, which is the amateur level. I showed up later to wander through the fair again. There were lots of free samples, including pulled pork, beef jerky, salad dressing, aspirin and my favorite, S'mores! (I got in that line twice.) I did not get any homemade ice cream but I did admire the little engine they used to turn the crank. 
With it's exposed radiator, it looks similar to a larger engine I admired at the Vista Gas and Steam Engine parade.

The BBQ teams had names like "Fired and Wired", "Hot Ashes", "Good and Any BBQ "and "Swine Dynasty".  The larger teams set up huge displays that would be right at home in a State Fair.
And there was a wide variety of smokers. Some were store-bought but most were hand-made to the individual's specific idea of the perfect smoker. 
We enjoyed this event a lot and are looking forward to more BBQ cook-offs. The people who show up for these are a relaxed, happy crowd, ready to eat BBQ and have some fun!

Two years ago: Driving through Texas

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