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AOE Judging & Awards

Judging is conducted under the independent direction of the Rend Lake Culinary Arts School in Ina, Illinois. For food entries, judges will assign a score from 1-10 in the categories of Appearance, Taste and Texture, with Taste being weighted at 300 percent. All scores are then combined to create a cumulative score for each product. Rubs and sauces are evaluated by themselves as well as with the cooked product. Product labels and other packaging for all food entries will be covered and assigned a random number to assure anonymity. Barbecue Specialty Items and Labels will be judged on a ten point scale based on appearance, design, content and consumer appeal.

Results are announced during the Awards of Excellence ceremony and posted online shortly thereafter. The ceremony takes place at the Annual NBBQA National Conference & Trade Show. All entrants are encouraged to attend the conference to accept potential awards in person, be recognized by peers, and take advantage of official photo and press release opportunities. However, you do not need to be present to win. Awards will be mailed to winning entrants who are not able to receive them in person.

First, second and third place winners in each category receive medals (gold, silver and bronze) and custom award certificates. Fourth and fifth-place finishers will also receive certificates. All winners are linked on the NBBQA website, published in National Barbecue News and recognized in an official NBBQA press release. Winners are also entitled to showcase the Awards of Excellence and NBBQA logos on the labels, publications and websites of winning products. Contestants who enter sauces in the Awards of Excellence can also submit them in the People’s Choice Awards.