Q Fest 2023 Tickets Now Available!
Q Fest 2023 Tickets Now Available!
After nine annual Q Fests we have learned a lot about putting on this competition, and we try to update the rules and guidelines to reflect what we learn each year. Although the competition is strictly an amateur event, the teams have certainly started to approach it with more complexity and seriousness than in the first few years, and we love it!
One observation we would like to share with all the participants is that in the past couple years, preparation and practice seems to be the key to some success in this competition. We can tell you that most winning teams the past couple years were teams that spent time planning their dishes well ahead of time, and using that time to run through practice cooking sessions to perfect their food. It paid off in each case. Yes, this is an amateur competition, but teams are continually setting the bar higher each year.
That being said, let’s all keep in mind that this event is about more than winning a prize at the end of the day. Win or lose, we started this event as a way to make new friends through an afternoon of great food, music and a few beers. The competition is simply the thing that brings it all together. Let’s keep the competition in the spirit in which it was intended and simply have fun!
You are NOT registered and your space is not reserved until payment is received!
Registration is $35 and includes entry into both the People’s Choice and Judges’ Choice contests. You must include your team name at time of registration.
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All winners will receive cash prize awards. Amount of each award is based on the number of registered teams and the actual fees collected. Amounts will be determined by the event hosts.
People’s Choice 1st Place
People’s Choice 2nd Place
People’s Choice 3rd Place
People’s Choice Side Dish
Judge’s Choice Winner
Judge’s Choice Best Side Dish
Judge’s Choice Honorable Mention
Amateur outdoor cooks who are interested in grilling and barbecue are eligible to register a team. This is a backyard barbecue competition, so we are cautious about allowing any food competition or culinary professionals to participate. If we cannot run a fair competition, cooking teams will stop participating. Without them, we have no event.
If you’ve participated as an individual or part of a winning team in any professional barbecue or cooking competitions (for example, a KCBS sanctioned event), we ask that you leave this event for the backyard amateurs. If you have participated professionally but have never placed in the award categories (in other words, you’re a loser), you may be allowed to enter Q Fest at the discretion of the event hosts.
If you have professional culinary or restaurant experience, we ask that you keep in mind that this event is geared towards amateurs, and that you approach this event in the spirit in which it is intended. We request that experienced cooks limit their participation on teams, allowing amateur teammates to do the majority of food preparation and cooking.
Main dishes should reflect the history and heart of barbecue and grilling, and that means meat! Leave the side dishes for the vegetarians, but consider the basic proteins for the main dish: chicken, beef, pork, turkey, lamb, venison, or fish. The general rule is - anything that had f!@#ing parents. Teams must cook their main protein on site at the event. If that means you have to come two days early to roast a pig, then that’s the deal. And yes, you must tell our guests what they are eating. You can’t serve them moose meat and tell them its beef.
While we want the meat to be the focus of your dish, it can be served a number of ways. Many teams chose to serve their proteins straight off the grill or smoker (such as chicken wings or pulled pork), while others have incorporated their meats into more complex dishes (such as pulled pork tacos or hamburger sliders). Both approaches are allowed as long as the meat remains the standout ingredient. When considering main dishes, teams should contact the event hosts if they have any questions.
Any returning team that has won an award in any category in previous years cannot enter the same or a similar dish in the current year’s competition. There should be no repeat winning dishes, you must cook something new. Teams are welcome to re-enter any of their losing dishes year after year after year. We would be happy to keep taking your money.
Each registered team may only cook and submit one main dish and one side dish for tasting and voting.
Teams are allowed to prep food ahead of time, such as marinating, brining and dry rubbing, but the food must be cooked on site.
Meat must be transported and kept at a temperature of 40 degrees or below before cooking. All meats must be cooked at least to USDA recommended minimum temperatures before being served. A temperature guideline is attached.
Barbecue sauces, marinades and condiments are all part of preparing and serving great tasting food, and most likely will be a part of your dish. All of these components should be original and homemade in some way. No store-bought sauces are allowed to be used “straight from the bottle”. Off the shelf sauces may be used as a base for a team’s “original” sauce (even professional teams do this in competition), but teams should be making significant modifications to make the sauce their own. This is the case for all sauces, marinades and condiments.
There are many ingredients that may go into your dish that cannot always be homemade, for example, taco shells or slider buns. We get it. Do your best to keep as much as you can original and homemade, and make sure the meat stands out. All guests are asked to judge on your main protein and not so much on the other ingredients.
Making a side dish to accompany your main dish remains optional, however there is People’s Choice Side Dish category. Side dishes can be made ahead of time, but we personally think making them at the event is more sportsman-like. Again, side dishes should be exactly that, and not be the main component of what you serve. A side dish should not be something that is meant to be eaten in the same bite as your main meat, but rather a completely separate component.
Planning this event takes a great amount of time, especially as the event date gets closer, so the earlier we can finalize the teams and ballots, the better. Once teams are registered, please get us the following information as soon as you commit to your cooking plans: 1) team name, 2) all team members, and 3) descriptions of both main dish and side dish. Ballots will be printed the weekend prior to the event, so at the very latest, teams must submit the following no later than the Friday prior to the competition event weekend.
Ballot positions are now determined by the order of assigned spaces. 10 x 10 spaces will be numbered starting along the fence nearest to the gate, and continuing along the fence line and then along the back fence line. The number of the space each team occupies will also be their number listed on the official ballot. Teams should take this into consideration when selecting space assignments.
Teams are responsible for transporting all their gear and being set up no later than 3:00 PM the day of the event, although most are set up much earlier. Teams are welcome to arrive the day prior to the event to set up, but we take no responsibility for any items left onsite prior to the event. We will have a short team meeting at 3:30 before people start arriving at 4:00. Each team will have approximately a 10’ x 10’ space to set up and serve. Canopies and tents are strongly encouraged since there is little shade in the yard. Teams should prepare for sun and rain. It is also a good idea to bring a folding table or two to set your stuff on and serve your food.
Space assignments will be decided according to the following: Teams are expected to attend the annual planning meeting each spring. Any team represented at the meeting will be entered into a drawing for space assignment order that night, and will be allowed to choose their spaces immediately according to the draw. Any team not represented at the meeting will be able to choose remaining available spaces upon order of registration.
The event hosts provide napkins, serving boats, sporks, paper towels, cups, garbage bags, aluminum foil and a first aid kit. On the day of the event there will be a table set up with all these supplies and available to for all teams to help themselves. Teams are responsible for anything they need that is not already listed.
Teams must serve all portions of their dishes between 5:10 and 7:30 PM during the event. You should not have all your portions ready to serve right at 5:10, but rather prepare to have continuous portions ready throughout the event.
The idea is not to feed everyone a full meal-size portion of something, but smaller “taste-size” portions. Cook as much or as little as you want, just keep in mind, the more people you can get to taste your food, the more votes you could get. Please limit your portion sizes to help make sure people try as many teams’ dishes as possible. Remember, people will be trying to taste everyone’s food throughout the day, so if portions are too big they will never be able to taste them all and their vote would not be fair.
The Judges’ Choice competition will begin at approximately 6:00 PM. Teams are not allowed to take their entries directly to the judges’ table. Please stay in your team area. The Judging Coordinator volunteer will come to your area and collect your entries and deliver them to the judges. The coordinator will try and give you a head’s up as to when your entry will be collected and can be anywhere between 6:00-6:30PM.
Teams may begin preparing or cooking their challenge entry at any time after arriving at Q Fest. All entries must be cooked onsite. The Stuffed Buffalo Challenge secret ingredient will be announced to teams during the official Q Fest welcome at approximately 5:10 PM. Teams must present their entry at the judging table at 7:30 sharp or will be disqualified. Official clock will be kept at the judges’ table. Additional details will be distributed before the competition.
Each team will be given 10 tickets to be handed out to team members, friends, and family. Additional tickets are made available on the event website and Facebook Page, and sent to members of our mailing list. Any remaining tickets will be made available to teams who request them. Any tickets not given out must be returned at the team meeting before the event starts. No Exceptions.
All adults are expected to have a ticket. Everyone with a ticket will be able to vote once. Children who will not be voting do not need tickets and are still welcome to come and try all the food. We will make some hotdogs and hamburgers available as well.
This is the most important thing, so pay attention dummies! This is a cooking competition, not a popularity contest, and teams must encourage their guests to vote honestly for the food they enjoy the most. Any team or guest that simply votes for their family or friends is cheating all the other people who work so hard to participate in a fair event. This is at the heart of our competition. Once teams believe they are not participating in a fair competition, they will stop coming and we will have no event!
While beer and drinking is all part of the barbecue experience, team members are expected to drink responsibly throughout the day, especially while serving our invited guests. Teams are responsible for their behavior and the behavior of their family and friends. This is a family event. Anyone who gets s!@#-faced and obnoxious will not be invited back. Have fun. If your team wants to make up t-shirts, dress funny, create a cool sign, whatever…just keep it clean, or at least not harshly offensive to anyone.
All teams are responsible for the complete clean-up of their area before leaving the event. All charcoal must be dumped in the metal tub provided by the event hosts and not dumped on the lawn. All garbage must be placed in bags, tied closed, and brought to the designated area at the front of the yard gate. All leftover food must be disposed of in wrapped containers, or taken with you. No food or garbage is to be left in your site when you leave.
Teams are welcome to leave grills, smokers, tables and chairs in their space after the event. All materials need to be picked up anytime the following day.