Barbeque News,  Competitions

Judging in the Georgia Barbecue Association

GBA Badges for certified judgesIf you like lip-licking, delicious barbecue prepared by some of the best competitive pit masters in the country, then you should consider registering as a judge in the Georgia Barbecue Association.

Smokin J’s Barbeque are not only a professional cook team in the GBA, but we are also certified judges, for the association.

We learned a tremendous amount during our training, which helped elevate our cooking game.

Several opportunities are approaching if you want to become a judge in the GBA. 

Prerequisites for Being a Judge

You probably should love barbecue – lol!

Like family – friendly events!

Can dedicate a few weekends a year to enjoying fellowship with other barbecue connoisseurs.

Class attendees must first register as an association member; which can be done online anytime:

Click HERE to join the GBA

Several membership levels are available:

Family membership – 2 – $50.00 (USD)Bundle (up to 2 members)Subscription period: 1 year
Family Membership – 3 – $75.00 (USD)Bundle (up to 3 members)Subscription period: 1 year
Family Membership – 4 – $100.00 (USD)Bundle (up to 4 members)Subscription period: 1 year
                                           (prices may vary since this article is over a year old)

After you pay your membership fee, you can register for a training class.

Training classes are only $35.00; which is a bargain!  (price may vary as of now)

What is a GBA Judging Class Like?

During a judging class, participates are educated on what constitutes professional barbecue; which is not necessarily how you like your barbecue when you sit down at home or in your neighborhood restaurant.

Judges are also trained on the scoring method used by the GBA, as well as BLIND judging practices.

Every entry is judged on appearance, taste and tenderness; after COMPARING each entry to one another an “overall impression” score is given.

When determining an overall impression, only the 5 or 6 entries on the table, at that time are compared to each other, to declare a top box.  Scoring is not determined by how good the meat in front of a judge stacks up against the bbq joint down the street.

Each training session includes a hands on experience, judging professional barbecue.

Prepared entries are brought in.  Students are then asked to judge the samples based on the class instructions;  followed by a discussion.

If you pass the class, you are a TRAINED JUDGE.

Pork Loin Entries to judge
Judging Pork Loin Entries, photo by Greg Hoyt
Judging Pork Ribs at a GBA contest
Judging Pork Rib Entries photo by Greg Hoyt

Progressing to a Certified Judge

Once a member has received his/her TRAINED JUDGE credentials, it is time to register and judge an event.

Judging registration occurs about a month before each event.  Registration can be done at the GBA Contests/Events website.

If you are chosen to be a judge, you will be notified via email as to what time and where to report.


On contest day, judges will report for roll call and be assigned their category or categories to judge.

Categories sanctioned by the GBA include, bone-less pork loin; pork ribs; and pork butt or shoulder.

Some contests hold ancillaries, such as best dessert or best cocktail.

Once a TRAINED judge has successfully completed two contest events, he/she will receive CERTIFIED judge credentials.

Recognition for those judges who exemplify what the GBA represents, “growth and fellowship of competitive barbecue, consistency and quality in judging, and have been a positive force within the Georgia Barbecue Association,” is available through the Master Judge Program.  

Why the GBA?

There are many different competitive barbecue contests and organizations.  Smokin J’s Barbeque truly enjoys the camaraderie and family we have grown to love within the GBA.

Every contest is like a family reunion or a backyard picnic with loved ones.  Events are family friendly and respect between cook teams thrives.

Family, atmosphere and – as I said earlier – the best damn barbecue you will ever eat are the reasons Smokin J’s Barbeque will continue to travel from WAY out of state to compete in the Georgia Barbecue Association.


Join the Georgia BBQ Association                R

Let me know if you have any questions about judging a GBA sanctioned contest.