I received a letter today announcing a KCBS judges seminar being held prior to the Taste of Grand Rapids bbq contest. Cost = $75. I don't see it listed on the official KCBS listing of judging classes yet, but since the organizers spent $.37 to mail me a letter, I assume the KCBS web site will be updated soon with the details regarding the class.
I'd like to applaud the contest organizers for realizing that having certified KCBS judges for their contest is important. While it's most likely transparent to the spectators and vendors at the event, as a competitor I like to know that most (if not all) the judges have sat through a judging class.
I've competed in the Taste of Grand Rapids the past two years and I do not believe any emphasis on having KCBS certified judges was placed on the preparations for the event. I do not recall them offering a judging seminar in conjunction with those contests.
Judging bbq may sound simple enough, but there's more to the task than meets the eye at first glance. You might ask, "What's there to know?" There is certainly a school of thought that embraces the "man on the street" theory that if your bbq is really good then anyone can judge it and know that it's good. The other school of thought, and my own personal view regarding bbq judging, argues that for consistency in judging the folks asked to judge the bbq samples need a frame of reference to use as a starting point.