- The contest must have on-site judging AND use on-site judges from the NCPC’s approved on-site judges list, which may be obtained from the NCPC office. On-site judges that are not on the approved list must be pre-approved by the NCPC.
- It is not required that local contests have blind taste judging, sauce or showmanship judging.
- Do not combine culinary and blind taste scores to create an overall score if you are sending a winner to the state championship.
- Due to the fact that on-site judges are trained on the basis of whole hog contests, contests sanctioned by the NCPC must be whole hog contests.
- The contest must use the official NCPC score sheets. Additionally, the score sheets MUST be tallied according to the numbers given on the score sheets.
- If a local contest would like for its winners to be eligible to compete in the Whole Hog Barbecue State Championship, at least 10 cooks need to participate in the contest.
Does your contest meet the requirements? Submit your event to be included on the website.
Core rules for sanctioned contests
- Each team must have a Chief Cook with a minimum of one assistant, but no more than three assistants. Chief Cook must be at least 15 years old.
- Each team must comply with all applicable rules and regulations of the County Health Department and County Fire Marshall where the contest is being held.
- Cookers must have documentation or labels on tents saying that tents are fireproof and should also have a fire extinguisher.
- Drip pans must be used to catch grease and should be disposed of in the designated area.
- If blind tasting is done, this must be awarded separately and not tallied into the overall culinary winner who will be eligible to compete in the state championship.
- If there is a tie, the winner will be determined based on the team with the highest score on “Meat & Sauce Taste.” If there is a tie in that category as well, the tie will be broken based on the team with the highest score for “Skin Crispness.”
- Contestants may not sell or give food or beverages to the general public. Under NO circumstances are alcoholic beverages to be distributed to the general public by contestants.
- It is the responsibility of the judges to determine if a pig is cooked fully and ready for public consumption. While each pig is required to have two thermometers inserted prior to judging, the temperature readings of the thermometers shall be used by judges as guides only in determining doneness. The final determination of a pig’s suitability for public consumption will be based on visual inspection by the judges and the judges’ decision will be final and not subject to appeal.
- In the event of a disqualification due to temperature, a team should remain on site to complete the cooking of the pig so as not to waste the pig or the opportunity for the host organization to sell the meat, unless otherwise determined by the judges to be unsafe.
Preparation and cooking rules
- Pigs should NOT be sauced inside or out. Pigs that have been sauced will be disqualified.
- Salt and baking soda may be used to draw out blood in the cleanup phase. (Only plain table salt or kosher salt may be used. No flavored salts allowed. )
- Injecting pigs will NOT be allowed. Some examples might include but are not limited to sauce and product drippings. Those injecting pigs will be disqualified.
- You can use any portion of the pig that is cut away.
- NO external heat source may be used other than the grill. Some examples might include but are not limited to heat guns and torches. Those using external heat sources will be disqualified.
- Removing soft spots will be deducted under the appearance category on the score sheet.
- Pigs should be inspected upon receipt and any abnormalities should be documented before the pig is put on the grill. Problems should be reported to the event organizer to be reported to the judges.
- Each contest may also need to add rules specific to their venue such as set up time, space allotment, parking, consumption of alcohol, event schedule, etc.
State Championship Eligibility Requirements
- The local contest must have at least 10 cooks in the contest in order to be eligible to participate in the Whole Hog Barbecue Championship Cook-off.
- Cooks who are one of the top three winners of a NCPC sanctioned local contest with less than 40 cookers are eligible to participate in the Whole Hog Barbecue Championship Cook-off.
- Cooks who are one of the top five winners of a NCPC sanctioned local contest with 40 or more cookers are eligible to participate in the Whole Hog Barbecue Championship Cook-off.
- Cooks who are eligible to compete in the Whole Hog Barbecue Championship Cook-off can compete for two years.
- Every contest will have an eligible winner to send to the Whole Hog Barbecue Championship Cook-Off. If the top winners have already qualified for the Championship, the next person on the winners list can represent the contest.
Wild Card rule for the State Championship
The backyard / non-professional winners at the Kinston Festival on the Neuse and Pigskin Pig-Out competition in Greenville and the natural source winner at Smoke On the Water are eligible to compete if there is space available at the state competition. The wild card winner cannot take the space of an eligible cook.
After the event is completed, event organizers MUST provide a reporting of the event, including judges names and a full list of winners/participants to determine if the event met qualifications for the winners being eligible for the championship. If the organizer does not provide this information, the qualifying individuals cannot participate in the championship. The full list of participants should be sent in in order of placement (first place through last place). We will update the website as soon as possible with the winners and everyone will be awarded points in the Pitmaster of the Year scoring.
Blind Judging Guidelines
The blind judging is your finished barbecue product as you want it presented to the judges.
- Entries are a blend of cooked meat, sauce and seasonings; and may include additional cooking methods.
- Entries may be chopped, shredded, pulled or sliced.
- Entries must be turned in within the state time limit.
- Entries may include individual chips of crackling for the judges, and crackling bits may also be blended into the prepared barbecue, if desired.
- Blind box entries should not include garnish, extra sauce containers, or foreign objects such as aluminum foil, tooth picks, etc.
- Blind barbecue entries are to be judged on appearance, tenderness and taste.
- Appearance includes texture, color, fat to lean ratio, burnt meat and the visual appeal of the barbecue as a food product.
- Tenderness is based on moistness and tenderness of the barbecue. Entries should not be dry, burnt, tough or mushy.
- Taste of the entry should be pleasing, and should not be excessively hot from the sauce and seasonings, and should also not be bland. The barbecue should be such as to be appealing and enjoyable to a typical barbecue consumer who would be eating an entire serving of the entry.
- The NC Pork Council’s Blind Taste Judging Scoresheet should be used for scoring of the entries.
Note: These are the guidelines for the State Championship Blind Competitions. Local competitions may have their own rules for their blind competitions if they wish. The Blind competition score cannot be combined with the culinary score to determine a winner. The scores MUST be kept separate. Blind Judging Guidelines (PDF) Blind Taste Judging Scoresheet (PDF)
- attend an in-person training;
- shadow cooks to gain an understanding of what goes in to cooking whole hog barbecue;
- shadow a training judge at at least one event to learn what the judges are looking for.
Once these three steps are completed, judges will be placed onto the judges list. Judges need to attend in-person training at least every five years.
The video below provides judging criteria for Whole Hog Barbecue Series contests. Sign up for the Whole Hog Newsletter below to receive notices about training opportunities.
Promoting your Event
Thank you for continuing to help us grow the Whole Hog Barbecue Series! Your local contest is an important part of the series, and we want to work together to grow your attendance, and overall awareness of the series across N.C. and the region. We hope you’ll consider taking the below steps as you plan and promote your contest. Please contact us with any questions, ideas or concerns. Pre-Event
- When you send us your event details, include your Facebook page or Twitter handle. We’d like to make sure we are following you so we can help promote your event.
- As you plan your event and promote it, consider including the Whole Hog Barbecue Series logo in your materials. We will be happy to provide it in any format you may need.
- Link to the Series social media channels in any tweets or posts.
- If you’re posting to social media, please tag @wholehogbarbecue and/or @ncpork. We’d love to share your content!
- Hashtags are a fun way to tie to similar events, and the Series. Popular tags for the Series, pork and contests include: #wholehogbarbecue #ncpork #wholehog #ncbbq #ncporkproud
- If you post pictures on Facebook or Instagram, tag us or post them on our Facebook page.