We are grateful for the contests that make up our Whole Hog Barbecue Series, and for the coordinators who dedicate their time and energy making the events and the series a success. The resources below should provide you with details on the sanctioning, judging and promotion of your event.

Series Requirements

  • 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. Must use a minimum of 3 judges.
  • It is not required that local contests have blind taste judging, sauce, showmanship or people’s choice.
  • 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 Championship Cook-off, at least 10 cooks need to be participating in the contest.
  • Contest must be announced on Whole Hog Barbecue website at least 60 days before the contest and the reporting form must be filled out within 14 days after the event ends. Contest must be open to anyone.
  • Local events may offer a “People’s Choice” category, but it cannot be mandatory.

Dressed whole hogs requirements to be communicated with supplier:

  • Carcass weight should be between 100 and 125 pounds; all pigs be as close as possible to the same weight.
  • Heads and feet removed before delivery, preferably.
  • Backbones sliced such that the pigs will lay flat, NOT sliced all the way through part way down or in two halves.

Does your contest meet the requirements? Submit your event to be included on the website.

Core Rules

  • Each team must have a Chief Cook with a minimum of one assistant, but no more than three assistants. Another cook may be your designated assistant if agreed upon.
  • 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.
  • When judges approach the pig, it must be presented meat side up.
  • 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,” then “Moisture.”
  • 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 working 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. Four sharp knives capable of cutting into the pig must also be available in case needed.
  • 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.
  • All cook teams and judges should behave as representatives of the NC Pork Council and the local organization. Unruly behavior at an event may render teams ineligible to participate in the state championship at the request of the local event organizer or judges team.

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.
  • The ONLY ingredients allowed in the preparation and cooking in a sanctioned event are:
    • Pig
    • Water
    • Baking soda
    • Salt (Only plain table salt or kosher salt may be used; no flavored salts allowed.)
    • Oil
  • ANY other ingredients will result in major point deductions and may result in disqualification.
  • 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.

NOTE: These are the rules that govern ALL sanctioned contests, including the State Championship. Download the 2024 CORE RULES (PDF) and 2024 ON SITE SCORESHEET (PDF).

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.
  • Chief Cook must be at least 13 years old. Any cook younger than 16 must have an adult present at all times. The bulk of the work must be done by the chief cook. (This rule was clarified by the judges’ committee and moved to State Championship Eligibility requirements on 4-9-19.)

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.

Reporting requirement

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.

Online reporting form


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)

Judge's Resources

All Whole Hog Barbecue Series judges must be trained and approved by the N.C. Pork Council. A successful judging candidate must:

  1. attend an in-person training;
  2. shadow cooks to gain an understanding of what goes in to cooking whole hog barbecue;
  3. shadow a training judge at at least one event to get first-hands experience.
  4. Submit the WHB Judge Training Requirements form to the NC Pork Council office.

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.


  • 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.

o Facebook: facebook.com/wholehogbarbecue o Instagram: instagram.com/wholehogbarbecue

During and Post-Event

  • 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.

Planning for next year

Events for 2025 will be added as we get them. Submit your event to be included on the website.


February 14 - 15, 2025

    February 28 - March 1, 2025

      Downtown Goldsboro
      April 11 - 12, 2025

        April 11 - 12, 2025

          Fair Bluff
          April 25 - 26, 2025

            May 30 - 31, 2025