Thousands Turn Out for Harpoons BBQ #HarpoonBBQ

July 26-27, 2014
Windsor Vermont
This past weekend thousands of spectators attended the Harpoon Brewery's 14th Annual Championships New England Barbecue in Windsor Vermont.

Thirty four teams from around the US competed in four categories: Chicken, Ribs, Pork and Brisket. These teams cook for the judges (not the spectators) and are scored from 9 (highest) to 2 (lowest without being disqualified) on the criteria of appearance, taste and tenderness, and the team with the highest composite score wins that category. Scores for each category go toward an overall Grand Champion win (max is 720.) A score of nine is excellent, eight very good, seven above average, six average, five below average, four poor, three bad, and two inedible. The weighted factors for the point system are: appearance -0.5714, taste -2.2858, and tenderness -1.1428. This all seems pretty complicated for eating BBQ. But this is a competitive sport.
Kansas City Barbeque Society (KCBS) judges take classes and get certified to be competition judges. Prior to each competition they must be sworn in "I do solemnly swear to objectively and subjectively evaluate each Barbeque meat that is presented to my eyes, my nose, my hands and my palate. I accept my duty to be an Official KCBS Certified Judge, so that truth, justice, excellence in Barbeque and the American Way of Life may be strengthened and preserved forever." They take their judging extremely seriously.
The day starts with the judges inspecting the meats being prepared by the teams. Teams are not allowed to begin their cooking processes until they have been certified by the judges. Each category of barbeque has a time cut-off for the delivery to the judging tent. Each entry must be delivered to the tent in a plain, white, styrofoam box, usually with the meat arranged atop a bed of parsley or lettuce. (Garnishes and other visual embellishments are strictly forbidden, because they may identify a particular entry, and the open box is presented to the judges to visually inspect before they take their first bite.)

Judges usually take only one bite of each entry to make their decision. A second bite means the difference between eating two pounds of food at a sitting versus four. Judges drink water only and may not use scented wipes to clean their fingers, but are allowed to use saltine crackers to cleanse the palate between bites or rounds.

Dizzy Pig from Manassas VA was this year's Grand Champion scoring 668.5944 and Smokin Hoggz BBQ from Abington MA was Reserve Champion scoring 668.4796.

State Championship Results may be found at:

More event images:

Harpoon Championships of New England Barbecue
Windsor VT July 26-27, 2014
Copyright ©2014 Nancy Nutile-McMenemy
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