Saturday, September 20, 2014

Returning to Fiddle-N-Pig Shindig

When I had judged at several events after my first one in Fort Mill, SC, I realized that Fiddle-N-Pig Shindig was a festival that I wanted to return to as a judge. The venue was fantastic, the contest was well run, a large crowd was entertained with music and food, and the judges were treated especially nice.

Contest organizers set up one of their festival tents.

When publicity for the Fiddle-N-Pig Shindig in 2014 began, I immediately sent a request to be a judge and hoped that sending in an application early as well as being a returning judge would bring positive news. I soon received notice that I could be a judge again and began looking forward to making a return visit to Fort Mill and seeing if my initial favorable impressions were still valid after having been a judge at five other events in the interim. They were.

Teams come with their favorite woods for cooking and smoking their meats.
The number of cooking teams that entered the Shindig for 2014 almost doubled. In 2013, only 21 teams had entered. This year the number was 35, which means that more judges would also be needed than last year. In addition, the prize money was increased from $5,370 to $11,500 – a great enticement for cooking teams to sign up.

Cookers of every variety can be seen in use by the cooking teams.

Otherwise, the event had a lot of similarities to the 2013 contest. Because the KCBS representative and the organizer were the same, much of the event was conducted as it had been last year. The judges again convened in the quaint Dairy Barn, and perfect weather was in store for another year that guaranteed a good crowd for the barbecue and music.

Judges again meet in the Dairy Barn to evaluate entries.

Being at Fiddle-N-Pig again showed me how much I had learned about judging barbecue since last year. In 2013, I was somewhat apprehensive in scoring entries, and this year I was much more confident. The experiences of the past contests also gave me a useful baseline to evaluate entries and to appreciate well-prepared barbecue.

One team begins to prepare the garnish early to earn high scores for appearance.

Should I apply to be a judge at Fiddle-N-Pig Shindig in 2015? Why not? It has been a great experience so far.

Teams display past trophies, such as the Blowin' Smoke team that won the people's choice contest in 2013.

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