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BBQ Cook-off and Family Fest Official Competition Rules

Click for Printable PDF Rules to Sign & Return



 The 8th Annual Backyard BBQ Cook-Off and Family Fest (the "Competition") is sponsored by the Eastern Florida State College Foundation, Inc. (the "Sponsor"), a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization and direct support organization of Eastern Florida State College, located at 3865 North Wickham Road, Melbourne, Florida 32935, United States of America. Sponsor is used in this context to refer to the Competition host, rather than a financial sponsor of the event. 


The Competition begins on Friday, February 16, 2024, at 12 PM ET and ends on Saturday, February 17, 2024, at 3 PM ET (the "Competition Period"). 


The Competition is open to legal residents of the fifty (50) United States or the District of Columbia who are at least eighteen (18) years old at the time of entry. Employees of the Eastern Florida State College Foundation (the "Sponsor") and other companies associated with the promotion of the Competition and their respective immediate families (spouses, parents, siblings, and children) and household members are not eligible to win. 


Each team will consist of one (1) Team Captain and up to four (4) assistants who will competitively prepare and cook meat (pork, ribs, and/or brisket). Each individual may compete on one (1) team and is not permitted to assist other teams participating in the Competition.


Each team must register to participate in the Competition by Monday, February 5, 2024, at 5 PM. Registration is limited to a minimum of ten (10) teams and a maximum of twenty-five (25) teams and takes place on a first-come, first-served basis. Registration requests exceeding the maximum permissible number of teams will be placed on a waiting list. 

To register, teams must submit the required entry fee ($100 for Backyard Teams and $1,250 for Corporate Teams) using the online payment form or by sending a check payable to the EFSC Foundation:  

EFSC Foundation 
ATTN: Dawn Niehoff
Building 10, Room 110 
3865 North Wickham Road 
Melbourne, Florida 32935 

All entry fees are non-refundable. Following confirmation of payment, teams must also submit a signed copy of the release located at the end of these Official Competition Rules.


Each registered team will be assigned a designated site measuring 20’x40’. Open fire pits and holes in the ground are not permitted. All equipment including cookers, grills, tents, canopies, and generators must be fire-retardant and fit within the boundaries of the team’s allotted site. Flags, signs, and banners may be placed within team sites, provided they promote only the team or its associated business or organization. 

Each team may also park one (1) vehicle or trailer within its competition site. Other vehicles may be parked along the perimeter of the competition lot as space allows. 

Teams will have access to indoor restroom facilities and water; however, on-site access to electricity is not available. 


Teams must supply all the equipment necessary for preparation, cooking, and cleaning (including bins for trash and charcoal disposal and an ABC fire extinguisher to be kept on-site) while simultaneously adhering to all city, county, state, and federal electrical and fire codes. 

Teams are not permitted to share equipment; each cooker or grill must be used exclusively by one (1) team within its assigned site. 

Cookers and grills must be powered by wood, charcoal, or wood pellets. Cookers and grills that use electricity or gas as the primary heat source are not permitted, but electrical devices that simplify the meat-smoking process (such as rotisseries, fans, or temperature gauges) are acceptable. The use of propane is permitted for fire starter and sanitation purposes only. 

The Competition will take place rain or shine; teams should plan their equipment accordingly. 


All team members are required to adhere to strict cleanliness and sanitation procedures throughout the entirety of the Competition Period. Team Captains and assistants are required to:

  • Wear shirts and shoes at all times throughout the Competition 
  • Wear disposable gloves when handling food 
  • Wash hands after using the restroom and before returning to the team site 
  • Refrain from using tobacco products of any kind on EFSC property including the team site 
  • Refrain from bringing animals on site (exception: working service animals are permitted on EFSC campuses and at college-sanctioned events) 

The team’s assigned site must also be kept clean during the Competition. This includes (but is not limited to): 

  • Sanitizing the work area with a bleach/water rinse (one (1) cap to one (1) gallon of water) 
  • Provide three (3) separate containers for washing, rinsing, and sanitizing utensils 
  • Promptly disposing of trash and other waste 
  • Thoroughly cleaning the team site after the Competition (site breakdown and clean-up may begin only when judging is complete) 


Team check-in is from 2 PM to 5 PM on Friday, February 16, 2024. Upon arrival at the EFSC Melbourne Campus (3865 North Wickham Road, Melbourne, Florida 32935), teams should meet with the event Sponsor, who will show them to their designated team sites. Team Captains must sign and submit the release included in this form to participate in the Competition. 


Team Captains must attend a mandatory captain meeting at 5:45 PM on Friday, February 16, 2024 (time subject to change at the discretion of the Sponsor). 


The Sponsor and an official Competition Meat Inspector will be on-site on Friday, February 16, 2024, to ensure that the meat to be used in the Competition complies with all rules. Once the meat has been inspected, it is not permitted to leave the Competition site. Additional meat requirements are as follows:

All meat must be raw at the start of the Competition 

  • All meat preparation and cooking must take place within the confines of each team’s allotted site (exception: meat may be pre-trimmed off-site if desired) 
  • Pre-seasoning, pre-marinating, pre-boiling, and/or deep-frying the meat is not permitted; the use of garnishes and sauces/dips is only permitted during the grilling process 
  • All meat must meet the Health Department’s meat holding conditions: 
  • After cooking, meat must be maintained at a minimum temperature of 140° F 
  • Cooked potentially hazardous food must be cooled:  
  • Within two (2) hours from 140° F to 70° F and  
  • Within four (4) hours from 70° F to 41° F or fewer 
  • Potentially hazardous food that is cooked, cooled, and reheated for hot holding must be reheated so that all parts of the food reach a temperature of at least 165° F for 15 seconds 

Following the captain meeting and completion of the meat inspection for all teams, a Competition official will signal when teams may begin cooking.


New in 2024, a team party will take place on Friday from 7 PM to 10 PM. More details will be emailed to you no later than a week prior to the main event.

Quiet hours will be in effect from 11 PM on Friday to sunrise on Saturday.  An EFSC security guard will be on-site throughout the Competition including overnight. 


All registered teams must prepare pork Crowd Samples, and teams wishing to compete in any of the three (3) categories (pork, ribs, or brisket) may also opt to prepare one (1) or more Competition Submissions. Teams competing for the Grand Champion title must submit meat in all three (3) categories but are ineligible to win both the Grand Champion prize and the first-place prize in an individual category. 


  • All registered teams must provide samples for approximately 1,500 event attendees 
  • Samples should be served in individual cups (approximately two (2) ounces) but do not need to be filled; portions should be enough for tasting 
  • Teams must supply their own sample cups, forks, and napkins 
  • Samples may not be sold for profit under any circumstances  


Each team must submit unbranded meat in an unmarked 9”x9” container (provided by the Sponsor). The meat should be served as follows:

  • Pork: Pork shoulder or Boston butt weighing a minimum of five (5) pounds; must be cooked as a single piece of meat, but should be sliced, pulled, or chopped before being placed in the container (intact shoulders and butts are not permitted) 
  • Ribs: Pork loin back (baby back) or spareribs; a minimum of six (6) separate and identifiable ribs in the container (no country-style ribs or loose rib meat) 
  • Brisket: Packer-trimmed beef flats or points (corned beef and pastrami are not permitted); a minimum of six (6) separate and identifiable slices in the container  

Only meat may be included in the containers. Other materials, such as foil, toothpicks, skewers, sauces/dips, or garnishes are not permitted. 

Judging times are predetermined and strictly enforced. The Team Captain is responsible for the timely submission of entries:

Pork: Submit between 10:10 AM and 10:20 AM for judging at 10:30 AM 

Ribs: Submit between 11:10 AM and 11:20 AM for judging at 11:30 AM 

Brisket: Submit between 12:10 PM and 12:20 PM for judging at 12:30 PM 

People’s Choice: Jars will be collected at 2:05 PM

After the winners have been announced, teams may sample items from other competing teams. 


Team disqualification is at the sole discretion of the Sponsor and will result in an overall score of zero (0) during judging. Grounds for disqualification include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Pre-seasoning, pre-marinating, pre-boiling, and/or deep-frying meats 
  • Cooking meat other than that which was inspected 
  • Undercooking meat such that there is evidence of blood 
  • Not following the required cleanliness and sanitation procedures 
  • Using gas or other auxiliary heat sources 
  • Including items other than meat in the submission box (e.g., toothpicks, garnishes, etc.) 
  • Selling BBQ samples for profit 
  • Using or possessing controlled substances during the Competition 
  • Using foul, abusive, or unacceptable language  
  • Generating excessive noise from speakers or radios 
  • Breaking down the team site before judging is complete 
  • Submitting entries after the designated submission times  


On  Saturday, February 17, 2024, one (1) or more entities working on behalf of the Sponsor will select potential winners in accordance with the established judging criteria from among all eligible entries: 

Entries will be ranked in half-point increments on a scale ranging from a low of 5.0 to a high of 10.0 in a total of three (3) categories: taste/flavor, tenderness/texture, and appearance. In the event of a tie, a tie-breaking procedure using the taste/flavor and texture/tenderness categories will go into effect. 

The odds of being selected depend on the total number of entries submitted. The Sponsor will attempt to notify the potential winners during an in-person Award Ceremony on Saturday, February 17, 2024, at 2:45 PM. If a potential winner is not present during the Award Ceremony or is disqualified for any reason, then the Sponsor may select an alternate potential winner from among the remaining eligible entries. Only three (3) alternate selections will be held, after which time the prize for that category will not be awarded. 


Prizes will be awarded as follows: 

  • Grand Champion: $1,500 cash prize 
  • 1st Place Pork: $500 cash prize and trophy 
  • 2nd Place Pork: $250 cash prize and ribbon 
  • 3rd Place Pork: $100 cash prize and ribbon 
  • 1st Place Ribs: $500 cash prize and trophy 
  • 2nd Place Ribs: $250 cash prize and ribbon 
  • 3rd Place Ribs: $100 cash prize and ribbon 
  • 1st Place Brisket: $500 cash prize and trophy 
  • 2nd Place Brisket: $250 cash prize and ribbon 
  • 3rd Place Brisket: $100 cash prize and ribbon 
  • Backyard Team People’s Choice: Gift from the EFSC Foundation ($100 Value)  
  • Corporate Team People’s Choice: Golden Pig Trophy (No Retail Value)  

Prize retail value may differ at the time of the award. The specifics of the prizes will be solely determined by the Sponsor. No prize substitutions will be permitted, except at the Sponsor's discretion. All prizes are non-transferable and subject to income tax. All prize-related expenses, including without limitation, all federal, state, and/or local income taxes, shall be the sole responsibility of the winner. Any winner of a cash prize at the time of award must provide their SSN, EIN, or TIN to Eastern Florida State College via an IRS Form W-9. Recipients of prizes valued at more than $600 will receive an IRS Form 1099 at the end of the year. Acceptance of a prize constitutes permission for the Sponsor to use a winner's name and likeness for purposes of advertising and promotion without further compensation unless prohibited by law. 

Any prize having a total announced value of $5,000 or more must be offered in strict compliance with §849.094, Florida Statutes. All prizes must be picked up at the time of award notification. 


In the event that the operation, security, or administration of the Competition is impaired in any way for any reason, or in the event the Competition is unable to run as planned (as determined by the Sponsor in its sole discretion), the Sponsor may either (a) suspend the Competition to address the impairment and then resume the Competition in a manner that best conforms to the spirit of these Official Competition Rules, or (b) terminate the Competition and, in the event of termination, award the prize from among the eligible, non-suspect entries received up to the time of the impairment. 

The Sponsor reserves the right in its sole discretion to disqualify any individual it finds to be tampering with the entry process or the operation of the Competition or to be acting in violation of these Official Competition Rules or in an unsportsmanlike or disruptive manner. Any attempt by any person to undermine the legitimate operation of the Competition may be a violation of criminal and civil law, and should such an attempt be made, the Sponsor reserves the right to seek damages (including attorney's fees) and any other remedies from any such person to the fullest extent permitted by law. Failure by the Sponsor to enforce any provision of these Official Competition Rules shall not constitute a waiver of that provision. 


By participating in the Competition, entrants agree to release and hold harmless the Eastern Florida State College Foundation, Inc., its affiliated or related entities, and their respective individual trustees, officers, employees, agents, volunteers, contractors, successors, and assigns, as well as any other entities associated with the Competition and each of their respective officers, directors, employees, shareholders, representatives, and agents (collectively, the "Released Parties") from and against any claim or cause of action arising out of participation in the Competition or receipt or use of the prize (including any travel or activity related thereto). 

The Released Parties are not responsible for any incorrect or inaccurate information. The entrant waives the right to claim all damages including, but not limited to, punitive, consequential, direct, or indirect damages. Nothing herein shall serve as a waiver of sovereign immunity by any of the Released Parties to whom sovereign immunity may be available (§768.28, Florida Statutes), nor shall anything herein be construed as consent by any of the Released Parties to be sued by any entrant or any other third party.  


Except where prohibited, each entrant agrees that all disputes, claims, and causes of action arising out of, or connected with, the Competition or any prize awarded shall be resolved individually, without resort to any form of class action, and exclusively by the appropriate court located in Brevard County, Florida. All issues and questions concerning the construction, validity, interpretation, and enforceability of these Official Competition Rules, entrants’ rights, and obligations, or the rights and obligations of the Sponsor in connection with the Competition shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of the State of Florida, without giving effect to any choice of law or conflict of law rules, which would cause the application of the laws of any jurisdiction other than Florida. 


To obtain a copy of the winner list, email your request to Dawn Niehoff at Requests must be received no later than thirty (30) days after the close of the Competition Period. 


Participation in the Competition constitutes the entrant's full and unconditional agreement to and acceptance of these Official Competition Rules and the decisions of the Sponsor, which are final and binding. Any illegal activity or activity contrary to the Eastern Florida State College Code of Conduct as outlined in Section 201.5 of the EFSC Procedures Manual is grounds for disqualification. Winning a prize is contingent upon being compliant with these Official Competition Rules and fulfilling all other requirements set forth herein. 

Download the team rules PDF with signature section.

If you have any questions, please contact Event Coordinator Dawn Niehoff at or 321-433-7053 prior to the start of the Competition.