Saturday night the Hillsboro Uptown Business Association (HUBA) held its second annual barbecue contest in conjunction with the Festival of the Bells. While there were not as many entrants this year the public turnout was vastly improved due to changing the hours of the contest.
Last year the contestants were up all night manning their smokers and the meats were judged at around noon. The temperatures at the time were hovering around 100 degrees and the humidity even higher. Combined with other festival events conflicting with the bbq judging there weren’t many people who showed up to sample the results.
This year the cooking began in the morning and the judging held at 6:30 p.m. It was everyone’s supper time and several hundred people showed up, made a contribution to HUBA, received a wrist band, paper plate, plastic fork, and two tickets to place in numbered jars to vote on their favorite foods and the showmanship of the competitors.
I didn’t see anyone going hungry or less than empty paper plates being tossed into the trash barrels.
I was one of the three judges who sampled each team’s entry and blindly judged what we thought to be the best of the best. The criteria were appearance, tenderness, and flavor. While I didn’t take note of who won top honors I will say that no team shamed themselves.
Having judged several professional competitions I was asked how these local smokers stacked up. Well, these were “backyard” cooks and can’t be expected to produce the kind of quality one finds at professional competitions. When the pros gather they bring their own select meats and will cook a raft of shoulders to select the best of the bunch to submit for judging. The HUBA cooks didn’t have that option. They were each provided one pork shoulder thus giving them but one chance to get it right.
While I wasn’t overwhelmed by any particular entrant I didn’t sample any barbecue that I didn’t enjoy. If I had ordered a pulled pork sandwich in a restaurant and been given any of these meats, I wouldn’t have been disappointed. I did find some objection with a few of the sauces used. Matter of fact, there wasn’t any sauce the wowed me and a couple were too heavily sauced for my likes.
When the judging was over I took it upon myself to bring home a couple of the remaining boxes of submitted meat. My wife mixed them all together into a bowl and let them meld together for a day. The result was a bowl of excellent quality smoked meat that’s fulfilling our craving for pulled pork.
My thanks to HUBA for sponsoring the event and inviting me to be a judge. Plus, a huge pat on the back to all those who sweated over the hot coals to make this event a true success. Looking forward to number three!