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Competitor Guidelines



There is an entry fee of $500 per team to be paid with submission of registration form. A team will consist of a Grill Master and up to three Assistant Chefs. Completed registration, including form and entry fee, must be submitted no later than September 13th, 2022. Teams will receive four complimentary event t-shirts and four wristbands. Additional t-shirts and wristbands will be available for purchase.




Participants of the BBQ Cook-off will set up between 12 P.M. and 5 P.M. on Friday October 26th, 2019. Teams are permitted to start cooking upon arrival and meat inspection. Teams cannot begin meat prep until the meat has been inspected.

Grilling Stations:


Once team registration form and payment has been received, teams will have the option of choosing either a preset open area or covered booth and will have the opportunity to select their preferred location. The stations will be first come first serve. To assure all team’s comfort throughout the event, please keep in mind the team's grill size when selecting grilling station. If grill size imposes on a neighboring site, team may be subject to relocation by event staff.

Introductory Meeting:


A mandatory team meeting will be held on Friday, October 26th, at 6:00 P.M. at The Helotes Festival Grounds. Competition will begin after the meeting and an itinerary for Saturday’s events will be issued at this time.


General parking will be provided by the Helotes Festival Grounds. Competitors and judges will have a

designated parking area closer to the entrance.


Alcoholic Beverages:


Regulations imposed on the establishment. All alcoholic beverages must be purchased from Helotes

Festival Grounds. Alcohol consumption is PROHIBITED from 2:00 am to 8:00 am.

Excessive use of alcoholic beverages will be grounds for disqualification, with no refunds of entry fee(s).



The Helotes Festival Grounds are equipped for teams to have access to outlets and running water. All competitors will be provided with sampling plates for judges. Each team will be responsible for supplying public sampling plates, canopies, tables, chairs, extension cords and any other supplies needed for their team set up. Teams will be allowed to market their company (hand out business cards, fliers, company merchandise, etc.). We simply ask that you respect our patrons, employees and property while doing so.

Pit Requirements:


Acceptable pits will include any commercial, homemade, trailered, or un-trailered pit or smoker and

may include gas or electricity for use to ignite natural wood or wood products only. All fires for cooking

meat must be wood, wood products (charcoal), or wood pellets. No gas or electric cooking heat will be



Cooks are to prepare and cook in a safe and sanitary manner. When preparing all food, no bare hand

contact of ready to eat food may occur. Food service gloves must be worn at all times while preparing

food. Cooking conditions are subject to inspection by judging committee.

Each team must have a good supply of clean towels, paper towels, and cleaning supplies (such as Clorox,

water, sanitizing wipes or sanitizing cloths) in order to keep all food preparation surfaces clean at all times.

Do not dump anything on to the ground. Use trash containers for disposal of all grease, charcoal ash,

and food and paper waste. Infractions identified by judging committee shall be immediately corrected.

Otherwise, team may be subject to disqualification.


A Helotes health inspector will be on site Saturday morning to inspect all teams. Ensure all ruels are followed as the health inspector has the authority to disqualify any team deemed unfit to compete. Teams are responsible for understanding and complying with all sanitation and health regulations.


Barbecue Categories:

  • Chicken

  • Ribs

  • Brisket


Cooking Specifications:

All meat will be cooked on site. All cooking of the meat shall be done within the team’s assigned cooking

area. No pre-marinating, pre-soaking, or pre-spicing prior to start time.

Meat will be inspected at Check-in. Meat may be pre-trimmed before inspection. Random inspections

may be performed to assure that no meat is prepared prior to the official start time of the competition.

Meat will be prepared within the time constraints of the cook-off site. Start time will begin after all meat

has been inspected. Cooks can begin to spice/marinate after their meat has been inspected.

All meat must be kept on ice or refrigerated before being cooked. Holding temperature must be at

40 degrees (F) or below and meat must be completely covered with ice. Teams must have a meat

thermometer and plenty of ice. Meats above 40 degrees (F) may be disqualified. Aluminum disposable

pans for storing and serving samples are an easy and inexpensive option. Please limit your sample

portions to 2 ounces or less.


Public Sampling:

All of the remaining meats will be sampled out by each team to the public for the People’s Choice portion of the competition. Teams should expect and be prepared to serve around 400 guests. Samples may be served with a toothpick, portion cup, and/or sample boats.

Turn-in Times:


Turn-in times shall be announced at the introductory meeting and posted on site. The turn-in times,

rules, and meat inspection forms will be given to the Grill Master. Each team must bring forms, checked

and signed, to the designated area at the time specified on the form to receive a turn-in box. 

There will be a 10-minute window of opportunity for turning in your barbecue entries for each category.

The Grill Master is responsible for turning in the entries or assigning a designated runner and knowing

the scheduled turn-in times. Entries will not be accepted before or after the designated 10-minute turn-
in time.


Turn-In Quantities:

Each team will be given a 9” x 9” styrofoam food container without food divisions for ribs, chicken, and

brisket. The following are the quantitative requirements designated for each category:

Brisket - Cooks will turn in eight (8) full slices, approximately 1/4 to 3/8 full slices, in the official contest


Pork Spare Ribs - Cooks will turn in eight (8) pork spare ribs in the official contest container.

Chicken - Cooks will turn in one-half of a whole chicken, not dis-jointed, containing skin, breast portion,

leg, thigh, and wing (with or without wing tip) in the official contest container.

The container must be able to be closed completely. If there is not enough individual pieces for each

judge to sample, the judge(s) not having a piece to taste will give the contestant a score of 1 for all

criteria and the judges having samples will change their appearance scores to 1.

All of the remaining meats will be sampled out by each team to the public for the People’s Choice

portion of the competition. Samples may be served with a toothpick, portion cup, and/or napkin.


No garnish is allowed, MEAT ONLY. Teams may be disqualified for the following:

1. Presence of garnish

2. Excessive sauce

3. Foreign objects

Judging Requirements:

Reasonable sample sizes must be provided to enable judges to render appropriate decisions. Samples

must be provided for all judge members and for a maximum of 300 guests.

All contest entries will be judged in the following 3 categories:

  • Appearance

  • Taste

  • Tenderness

A double-blind judging system will be used to assure that no judge can identify the team’s entry they

are judging. Each team will be given an identical food container for each category entry; a 9” x 9”

styrofoam food container without food divisions.

Each food container bares the number of each individual team. The Grill Master will sign for the food

containers and verify the number of their team is correctly placed on each individual container.

Food containers will be distributed to the judges table by a contest representative.



Scoring will be based on appearance, taste, and tenderness. Contest entries will be scored using the

following scoring system (2-9):

9 – Excellent

8 – Very Good

7 – Above Average

6 – Average

5 – Below Average

4 – Poor

3 – Bad

2 – Inedible


The weighing factors for the scoring system will be:

  • Appearance (texture, color, fat to lean ratio, burnt meat) – (15%)

  • Taste (sauce too hot, mild or excessive vs. a pleasing blend of sauce and meat) – (60%)

  • Tenderness (moist and tender vs. dry and tough) – (25%)

All judges will give a 1 in appearance for unapproved garnish or pooled sauce. All judges will give a 1

in all criteria for sculptured meat, a marked turn-in container, foreign object in container, or incorrect

meat. All judges not receiving a sample will give a 1 in all categories and those judges having samples

will change their appearance scores to 1 for that specific category.


* In the unlikely event of a tie score, the tie will be decided by the team with more votes in the People’s

Choice Category.


Awards will be given to the top 3 winning teams for each of the following categories:

  • People’s Choice – majority fan voted category.

  • Judges – a panel of appointed judges will be given a blind sample.

  • Overall Grand Champion – combination of judged and fan voted score.

Awards will be given to the top 3 winning teams at 4:00 pm on Saturday, October 26th.

All participants MUST vacate the Helotes Festival Grounds by

Saturday, October 30th at 5:00 pm

To Download Registration Form Click Below

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