Welcome to BBQ Bedlam! Anyone that loves BBQ and a good time is invited to a day of cooking, eating, and hanging with great people. You can expect music, schwag and gear, a cash bar, a very different type of BBQ competition and a whole lotta Q.
About BBQ Bedlam BBQ Bedlam is designed to bring BBQ lovers from across New England together. It's a festival and competition where teams present their best to a team of BBQ personalities that sit on a stage with microphones in front of the competitors and score entries on the spot based on appearance, taste, and creativity. Unlike most BBQ comps, there isn't a prescribed look and taste for what is turned in. Bedlam entries in the past include a smoked beef three way, chicken fried ribs, and even mini smoked chicken pot pies. This isn't your standard KCBS competition but it's a great time.
While it’s organized around the comp, it’s intended to be a party for anyone that likes BBQ with general entry tickets available to all. BBQ lovers are invited to bring their own tailgate setups, cook food for friends, or just stroll the grounds and talk Q with friends. Everyone that participate is eligible to win the Best Tailgate Award.
BBQ Bedlam is a labor of love. Everyone that helps is a volunteer. Every dime collected goes to covering cost and then to charity. This year we raised $2,500 for Youth Development Organization in Lawrence, Mass.
Competition Team Pass ($250 for up to 5 people). Throw down in a no holds barred BBQ battle of the bones with your fellow pitmasters. Team spots are limited with past payouts of $1,000 for first, $500 for second, and $300 for third with trophies for best chicken, pork, ribs and of course the Bedlam Belt for Grand Champion.
General Admission ($10 per person). Witness the live judging, spend an hour strolling grounds or grab your gear and tailgate with friends. Teams may share snacks but food is not included in the admission. DJ starts at noon. Cash bar at 10 am. Kids under 16 are free.
Vendors. We want lots of cool stuff for people to check out. You sell it or want to show it off? Bring it! No charge beyond the $10 a person to attend but shoot me a note @ firstname.lastname@example.org so I can set aside space and hype you up.
Rules and Regs (will keep updating)
***This is not a sanctioned BBQ comp. It's BBQ Bedlam. Our goal is to highlight and reward creative backyard BBQ badassery. If you're looking for the prescribed look and taste of KCBS this is not the contest for you.***
NO OUTSIDE ALCOHOL - the Elks would lose their liquor license. They're big on this one. The bar will open at 10 am and stay open till close. Bring cash.
No RVs or overnight anything. There is no onsite electricity and no gas generators allowed. Solar, battery powered generators are welcome. Water. There is a shared hose on site.
Tailgate for non-competitors. Gates open for tailgaters as soon as the competition teams have access to their sites. Usually by 7am.
Tailgate Award. Anyone with a cool set up is eligible, including comp teams, for the Best Tailgate Award. Go for flare baby!
Coal and Trash Clean up. There will be a pit onside for dumping hot coals in before you hit the road. All Tailgate and Competition Teams are expected to leave their sites the way they found them. We'll have trash barrels and a dumpster but do what you gotta do to make a clean getaway.
Team Arrival. We start sending teams to their spots at 6am. Wait in the lot for an organizer to direct you to your spot. The venue doesn't want trucks left on the field. You'll pull your trailer and equipment in, unload, and park your truck in the lot.
Teams must bring their own trash bags and are responsible for leaving their sites as they found them.
There is no electricity on the grounds for teams. No gas or diesel generators allowed. Solar or batteries are cool. There is one hose in the area. Plan accordingly. All teams must have a fire extinguisher nearby.
***Judging & Comp Rules***
Best Tailgate: Anyone that's set up to cook is eligible - teams or otherwise. This award basically goes to the group of people that are adding the most to the party. BBQ bribes encouraged:)
You will be judged on a stage in front of your peers by pseudo-celebs with microphones. That's Bedlam.
3 categories for turn-ins: chicken, pork, beef. You can do whatever you want with each protein. Fried St Louis ribs, pulled pork empanadas, chicken pot pie, beef tacos, etc.
You cannot combine proteins or add other proteins. No bacon in your chicken turn in, chicken in your beef tacos, etc. Eggs / dairy are not considered proteins and are allowed in preparation of any turn in.
The only preparation of the meats or sides that are allowed off site is trimming. Rubs and sauces can be prepared offsite. All other preparations must be done onsite.
Your site will be inspected before you start cooking. Teams can start cooking as soon as all teams are set up and inspected or at 7:00 (whichever comes sooner). Plan your timing accordingly!
All turn-ins must fit in a standard turn-in box (we will supply) and be prepared for each judge to get a proper taste without having to cut anything.
When used, garnish is limited to chopped, sliced, shredded or whole leaves of fresh green lettuce, curly parsley, flat leaf parsley, curly green kale and/or cilantro. PROHIBITED GARNISHES ARE lettuce cores and other vegetation, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO endive, red tipped lettuce (because KCBS says this and it cracks us up).
Judges will assign scores of 0 to 10 in each of the following categories: taste, appearance, creativity. Scores of all judges per team, per category will be added.
Prizes will be awarded for 1st place in all 3 categories (chicken, pork, beef) and for Grand Champion.
Turn in order is chicken, pork, beef with an hour between each.
The allowable turn-in time will be five (5) minutes before to five (5) minutes after the posted time with no tolerance. A late turn-in will not be accepted and will receive a 0 (zero) in all criteria.
This competition is about fun, camaraderie, and learning new tricks. We recognize that it's 100% subjective. That's the price of judging creativity. The judges' scores are final. If that even feels like an issue, best not to compete in this one.
CHANGES IN CONSIDERATION FOR 2023 (Final rulings will come well in advance)
Inclusion of small serving utensils in box is acceptable. They cannot be decorative and should only be included if necessary to hold the turn in together. Examples include toothpicks, a small plastic container for au jus sauce, etc.
Inclusion of an index card describing the turn ins by all teams. Descriptions must simply state what the turn in is and can optionally include preparation method - no adjectives. For example: Acceptable: "Prime ribeye steak sandwich smoked and seared with onions, mushrooms, and an au jus dipping sauce." Not acceptable: "A delicious roast beef three way with my world famous homemade BBQ sauce."
We are also considering announcing team numbers but not names until after the judging of each turn in is complete. I know some might argue that judges can memorize numbers but with rotating judges and lots of turn ins, someone would have to be pretty intentional to favor a team and I don't think intentional bias is a problem.
We are thinking about ways to speed judging so turn ins don't sit too long. However, we don't want to lose the live judging aspect. Pork and beef were much quicker than chicken after I asked the judges to pick the pace up so it may be a matter of providing better guidance to them.