The cost of competing in bbq competitions is on the rise. Meat prices, gasoline prices, steel prices, entry fees for some bbq contests are rising, while "real" wages and income for competitors is decreasing.
Some contests that don't offer electricity or running water for competitors charge the same entry fees as contests that supply them for no additonal charge. Some contests charge the same entry fee to compete, but pay out less total prize money to winners than some others and still other contests charge higher fees and pay out less total prize money and to fewer competitors.
As a friend of mine used to say, "It is what it is." Granted, as bbq competitors we're probably lucky that organizers are still willing to organize bbq contests at all because it's likely that expenses for the organizers are also rising.
That has given me an idea for a way to reduce costs for competitors and add a little something "extra" to the bbq contest experience.
What if contest sanctioning bodies and organizers changed things a little bit and added a new feature to the mix--allow the cookers, grills, smokers, etc. use by the winning competitors to be "claimed" by any competitor that does not finish in the top 5 in the overall results.
In this manner, the overall expense for competitors would gradually decrease. This idea harkens back to "grass roots" auto racing, as many track owners and sactioning bodies allow losers to "claim" the winner's motor and sometimes even their entire car for say, $2,500-$3,000. This keeps cost down for everyone because the most you would want to spend is about $2,500 - $3,000 because if you win, you run the risk of losing your investment.
The bbq contest organizer or sanctioning body could allow the losers to purchase the cooker used by the winning team for a set fee, for example, $1,000. Over a period of time, this would bring costs for everyone down. New competition teams would not feel the pressure to constantly upgrade their equipment to "keep up with the bbq Joneses'" so to speak.
I'm not advocating making an across the board change for all bbq sanctioning bodies, but I do think it would be interesting to add this to the rules for a few contests here and there. Maybe it could be incorporated into the rules for the Backyard Division for starters.
Who knows, with a little luck maybe bbq will someday have it's own version of the popular SpeedTV program-- Pinks!
Another article about bbq contests
Peace, Love and Barbecue