Our first professional bbq event was in Okeechobee, FL. Everything was a struggle. We struggled to set up our canopy, our cooking equipment, and just about everything else.
I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off. The next day we struggled to prepare our samples for the four categories and finished in the lower half of the field.
At our next event we did a little better and actually won first place in the chicken category. At the third event we did a little better and our categories were more consistent overall. After a few more events everything flowed very well. As our stress levels declined, our overall results improved.
BBQ contests should not be stressful. The risk and reward ratio just doesn't allow for it. BBQ competitors that compete solely to win prize money are setting themselves up for dissapointment. There are certainly successful teams that do take this approach. They don't talk to passers by and don't talk to fellow competitors. In my mind, they are missing out on the joy of it all.