MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT
END OF THE YEAR
July 24, 2016
We are rapidly approaching the end of another contest year. The close of one chapter of FBA history and the beginning of a new chapter will take place September 2 in Perry, Florida.
That means that the Fun Cook and Celebrate Last Year Party are rapidly approaching. This Fun Cook is being hosted by Dawn Taylor and her committee. Any of you who have ever attended one of the events that Dawn has hosted over the years know what a class act she is and what great events she organizes. Of the ten fun cooks that I have attended over the years, I think this one is shaping up to be the best. It will be held under the pines at the state park where previous events have been held. This is a great venue with all of the conveniences needed to have a great contest.
The contest at Fun Cook is unique in that a cook team can enter two entries in one or all of the four categories if they want. So if you want to try out a new recipe now is the chance without endangering your chances of winning the contest or your team of the year points. The Celebrate Last Year Party will be highlighted by the presentation of the TOTY and JOTY awards as well as the awards for the Fun Cook itself. The dinner will be a catered seafood feast with a top notch blues band playing background music. After the awards, desert will take the form of an ice cream social featuring Bluebell ice cream and all the trimmings. Following the ice cream social will be a wet T shirt contest. I’m not going to give the format away but I will say that it is absolutely G rated and NO, you are not going to have to witness me in a wet T shirt. Now for some really good news – the seafood feast and ice cream social are absolutely free. You don’t even have to worry about bringing a pot luck dish. What you do need to do however is let Dawn know that you are coming so that we can have the right amount of food to feed everyone. Also let her know if you would rather have chicken than fish. Her contact info is:
Ancillary contests will of course include wings and deserts on Friday evening and
a new contest on Sunday morning called anything left over. This will give you a chance to get really creative because you must use any meat left over from the fun cook as the basis for your entry. If you didn’t cook, you can still enter by talking a team that did cook out of some of their leftovers. Prize money will be 50/50 of the entry fees. There will also be a kid’s cook with prizes galore. The grills will be furnished. Contact Dawn in advance to reserve a grill.
There will be a judges’ seminar on Friday evening so if you know someone who wants to be a judge, tell them to go to the web site and sign up. There are still some seats. We are going to have a drawing at the seminar for one seat at each table to judge the fun cook and I suspect a number of the attendees will hang around for the weekend. Please go out of your way to welcome these new members.
On Saturday after the judging, the Board of Directors will don their Kevlar underwear and the annual general membership meeting will be convened. This is your chance to bring your concerns to the Board face to face. The agenda will be simple. Basic reports by the Board and then the rest of the meeting will be devoted to members’ comments and questions. Also a gentle reminder that this is election year and nominations will open shortly after the fun cook. All seven positions will be elected.
Alcoholic beverages are technically prohibited on the site. However, as those of you who have attended previous events there know, no one checks those infamous red plastic cups that obviously contain either lemonade or root beer. ‘Nuff said.
Again, it is critical that you let Dawn know that you are coming so we can have enough food.
Smoke Well My Friends,
June 26, 2016
Today I have more good news. Due to the hard work of Lori Frazee and Gary Washam, we now have a second source of logo apparel. Go to the new web page and click “Shop” in the upper right corner. Click on the storefront icon for Chef Works. This will take you to the new Chef Works web page. Click register and create an account. Once this is done, you can shop to your heart’s content. It does take a bit of experimentation to figure the way the shop works but it is pretty intuitive. Basically you are dealing with Chef Works directly who has provided a discounted pricing structure for FBA members.
Chef Works specializes in culinary industry apparel, chef’s coats, shirts, hats and aprons. Each item will have an FBA logo at a preset location and some offer the option of adding your name and title as additional embroidery.
Gary is putting together a step by step checklist that will be posted on our website to help with any questions.
As you can see from the web site shop page, there will be more items coming soon.
Smoke Well My Friends,
May 20, 2016
After my last Ramblings, I was “gently” reminded that I mentioned committees as an avenue to contact the Board of Directors but did not give contact information.
The FBA has four standing committees that are listed below with the chairman’s contact email.
Smoke Well My Friends,
May 16, 2016
I’ve started this Ramblings several times but decided not to publish it. However, I think the time has come.
Your current Board of Directors has worked very hard to establish transparency, open lines of communication and to be responsive to the members. For the most part that is working very well. However, it appears that we still have some weak areas. Social media and particularly Facebook seems to be a bit misunderstood.
Let me say first of all, and probably most importantly, every individual has an absolute right to freedom of speech. That is guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution in which I am a very firm believer. There is a very active members’ only page on Facebook where all make and manner of accusations are made and ideas expressed. You may have noticed that I don’t participate in these discussions and I have asked (not directed) Board members not to participate either. The reason for this is simple. Members need a place to vent and there are very well established ways to communicate with the Board. Facebook just doesn’t happen to be one of them. Please don’t demand either by individual name or by the board as a whole for actions to take place based on your Facebook ravings.
If you want to bring things to the attention of the Board, any one, or all, of the following routes are available;
- Send an email directly to me, an individual Board member, or the Board as a whole. To the best of my knowledge, no one has ever sent me an email that has gone unanswered, and a number of suggestions have appeared on the Board meeting agenda.
- Contact the Cook Team Committee or the Judges’ Committee. Their purpose in life is to represent your interests to the Board.
- Listen in on the monthly Board meeting. Prior to each major vote and just prior to adjournment members are asked if they have any comments or questions. We welcome your comments. If you think they aren’t important, just ask the folks who spoke up and got the Board to reverse their position on increasing dues.
- Catch one of the Board members at a contest and make your views known.
- If you have a specific complaint about a Representative, how a contest was run, or actions of a specific judge, contact the Vice President, Jim Elser. We do have methods of investigating and taking appropriate action in the bylaws and policies but all of them require a specific written complaint to initiate.
Just as a final anecdotal observation. I just don’t remember many instances where the folks who have lambasted us the most on Facebook have actually contacted the Board. I don’t know what the message in that is. Perhaps they are just venting and really don’t want the Board to do anything official.
Smoke Well My Friends,
May 11, 2016
I hope everyone is enjoying this great weather. I just want to pass along a few things to the membership.
- Mark your calendars for the Fun Cook, September 2, 3 & 4 which is Labor Day weekend. This year it will be held in Perry, Florida. The whole town is getting behind the Fun Cook and our committee is coming up with a very exciting program.Sign up now.There will also be a judges seminar on Friday evening.If you know anyone interested please tell them to sign up on the web site.This will probably be the only seminar held in the north part of Florida this year.
- The Board of Directors Meeting this month will be on Tuesday, May 31. This is due to Monday being a legal holiday.
- The topic of allowing cooking schools to substitute for the cook with a team requirement for Master Judge has been bouncing around for a while. The majority of the schools are well run and the instructors take great care to show everyone how the contest works. However, the Board received a proposal from a member for a one day, six hour school that would satisfy the requirement. This sparked a flurry of emails and phone calls among Board members and the informal decision was made not to allow a cook school to substitute for the cooked with team requirement. The Board simply cannot get into the business of approving some cook schools and not approving others.
- Gary Washam, the head of our IT Committee has prepared a very detailed set of instructions for buying logo merchandise from Queensboro.
Go to the FBA website: https://fbabbq.com/
Select the “Shop” menu item: https://fbabbq.com/shop-2/
Currently the FBA Store only offers logo items from Queensboro via a custom storefront built just for FBA.Read the introduction information on the FBA store page, then scroll down to the storefront icon next to “”and select the icon.It will take you to the Queensboro FBA store:http://fbabbq.qbstores.com/
The first time you go to the FBA store you will need to register by creating an account with Queensboro. Enter your email address where shown and click the green “Register” button.
This will take you into the FBA store at Queensboro, but you need to create your password before proceeding.In the upper right corner, select the down-arrow beside “My Account”.This will show your Customer ID number.Select “Account Settings”.This will take you to the password creation page.Enter a strong password you can easily remember in both fields and then select the blue “Continue” button.
Congratulations!You have created your account and now will be taken back to the FBA Store at Queensboro.
At the top of the page you will see four options:
- Customer Services – this is how you contact Queensboro if you need technical help
- Shop by Logo – This is where you can shop FBA specific items by choosing the logo placement on the chosen item:
- Left Chest Embroidered
- Hot Embroidered
- Fleece Items Embroidered
- Light colored items with silk-screen printing on left chest and back (large logo)
- Dark colored items with silk-screen printing on left chest and back (large logo)
- Light colored items with silk-screen printing full size on front (women’s tank tops)
- Dark colored items with silk-screen printing full size on front (women’s tank tops)
- Printed Apparel – this is where you can shop for FBA specific items that are silk screened
- Embroidered Apparel – this is where you can shop for FBA specific items that are embroidered
After you select items b, c or d above, you will be presented with an array of categories from which to choose.Select your preferred category and you will then be presented with images of all the items in that category available through the FBA store with logo example shown.
Surf through all the categories and images to find your preferred item(s).
When you select the preferred item by clicking on the image, you will be presented with an array of colors and sizes from which you may choose the final configuration and set the quantity you desire. Scan through the colors to see how the final colors will appear and when ready, just enter the quantity of the item in the box beside the color chosen and under the correct size column. You may go back to shop some more after loading each item into your shopping cart by selecting the blue button “Continue Shopping”.
When finished shopping, simply go to your shopping cart and select the green button “Proceed to Checkout”.
Fill in all the billing and shipping information along with your credit card information and follow the steps shown to complete the purchase. You will receive an email confirmation of your order at the email address you entered as your account name.
Now just sit back and get ready to receive a package in the mail with all our FBA logo items.
Wear and carry them with pride at your next FBA event.
If you encounter any problems working with the FBA Store, please contact Gary Washam (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Smoke Well My Friends,
May 2, 2016
Today I have really good news. Due to the very hard work of Gary Washam and the Board of Directors, we now have a source of logo apparel. Go to the new web page and click shop in the upper right corner. Click on the storefront icon for Queensboro. This will take you to the Queensboro web page. Click register and create an account. Once this is done, you can shop to your heart’s content. It does take a bit of experimentation to figure the way the shop works but it is pretty intuitive. Basically you are dealing with Queensboro and the FBA gets a percentage of whatever you spend.
You can order just about any type of apparel that you want in any color that you want with the FBA logo placed where you want it (more or less).
Gary is putting together a step by step checklist that we will get out to you as soon as he completes it.
As you can see from the web site shop page, there will be a lot more items available soon.
Smoke Well My Friends,
May 5, 2016
As many of you are aware, there has been a great deal of controversy recently about judges who consistently score below the table average for any given box. This is obviously a very sensitive issue. The teams, of course, want to score well enough to walk. On the other hand no one wants the scores inflated to the point where every team at a contest gets a perfect score. The vast majority of the judges that I know work very hard to give fair and reasonable scores. It is also a fact that cook teams do not cook as well on some days as on others. They may have 8 really great entries in a turn in box, 8 not so great entries, or any combination. Scores will vary across the table based on the particular piece a judge gets. What the Board is trying to do is to find a way to identify and perhaps change the judges who consistently give 7.5s and 8s when the other judges at their table are giving 9s and 9.5s for the same box. Having said that, let me present some ideas that may resolve this problem without having to implement some sort of tracking and rating system for judges.
First of all, there is no such thing as perfect BBQ. There is excellent BBQ but not perfect BBQ. Giving a score of ten doesn’t require the BBQ to be perfect, it has to be excellent. There is a big difference.
Next, the FBA is non-comparative judging. That means that each box is judged on its own merits, not compared to other boxes at the table or judges against the really good BBQ that your favorite BBQ shack serves. This means that you can give as many 9s or 10s or 8s as you feel the entries merit. The Board has done away with the concept of starting at 7.5 as average and working up. Start anywhere you are comfortable with on the scoring scale and assign scores accordingly. This is very important so I will say it again: There is no longer a requirement to consider 7.5 as the average BBQ and score up or down from there.
You are required to make comment on any score of 7.0 or lower. It helps the team understand why you gave that score and how they can improve. Make your comments short and meaningful. “Too salty” or “too spicy” helps the cook team a lot more than “I didn’t like the taste.” If you give a score of 7.5 or 8 or even 8.5, you are not required to write a comment but it would really help the teams if you would. Be prepared for a table captain or a Rep to ask you why you gave a particular score if it is a point or more out of line with the rest of the table. This isn’t a criticism, because if you can tell us why you did it that’s fine. If it is something like: “It’s just not as good as I cook” or, ” I don’t like thighs” then perhaps you should remember that we judge it according to the FBA standard rather than personal preferences. I have attached a copy of the FBA standard below.
Now, how do you know if you are judging in the same ballpark as the rest of the judges at your table? After the last card is turned in for a category, ask the table captain how the scores ran. The table captain will discuss in general terms which entries scored the highest and if any entries scored way low. You can always ask the table captain privately how you scored in relation to the other judges. They won’t discuss other judges’ scores but they should be able to tell you that you were high, low or right in line with the others.
There is another way where you can see how every judge at your table scored and compare your scores to theirs. After the awards ceremony, each team receives a packet that shows how each judge at each table scored each of their entries. We are now able to make that packed available to judges on the web site.
- Click contest results in the upper right corner of the first page.
- Select the contest you want and click contest results.
- Click download results and you will see the score package.
- For each category, each table number should show up 5 or six times. Once for each box you judges in that category.
For each entry, you will be able to see how each judge at the table scored that entry in all three categories. It may be hard to determine which judge number you are. The judge numbers on the score packet are not the numbers on your score cards but the judge numbers remain the same for all categories so you will be able to track your scores across all categories using the same judge number. Basically to find your number, you are going to have to remember the exact scores you gave to several boxes in each category. That should allow you to recover your judge’s number for that category. While you should be able to figure out the teams that you judged, I would caution you not to tell a team that you judged their product. That would have the potential to undermine our entire double blind system.
What I think you will find much more useful is that you know about what you scored. Did you give mostly 9s and 10s with one or two 8s or 8.5s, then you will probably find yourself in line with the group. If you gave all 8’s and 8.5s, and the rest of the judges at you table gave 9.5s and 10s, then perhaps you may want to rethink you scoring criteria.
I want to stress that you should be looking for trends in your judging. If you gave one low score, for say a rib where the meat fell off the bone, that is good judging. If all of your scores were below table average then perhaps you should think about how you score. Also, I am not saying for an instant that you should only give 9.5s and 10s. I am saying that as a general rule your scores should be within a point or a point and a half of the other judges at the table for most of the entries.
FBA JUDGES NOTES
February 29, 2016
Please, Don’t Compare! Judge each entry on its own merit. Score each entry individually. There may be more than one entry with an 8.5 (or another number) that’s OK! Remember to use ½ point increments when applicable.
Entries are scored using a scale of “10” to “5
9.5 VERY GOOD
8.5 ABOVE AVERAGE
8 SLIGHTLY ABOVE AVERAGE
7 SLIGHTLY BELOW AVERAGE
6.5 BELOW AVEARGE
5.5 VERY POOR
5 COULD NOT FIND ANYTHING GOOD ABOUT IT AT ALL
Remember that a two (2)is reserved for disqualification, which can only be authorized by the FBA representative. Score carefully! Once you have recorded a score for an entry, it CANNOT be changed unless directed by the FBA representative due to a rules infraction. If you score a 7 or lower, please turn the scorecard over and note as to why you scored the way you did. Take your time! We want you to use the FBA scoring system to indicate the differences in the entries, so judge carefully! If the entry is late or not turned in, the computer will automatically show zeros for that entry.
Comments for the cook teams are encouraged and you will remain anonymous when you make them. Comments may be made for both good and bad BBQ. To make a comment, simply put a star by the box number on the front of the card. Turn the card over, put the box number and your comment on the back. Please make your comments polite and useful. “The worst BBQ I ever ate.” doesn’t help the cook team improve. “This entry was way overcooked and too salty.” does help them. Comments must be made for any score of 7 or lower.
Remember the cook teams put a lot of time, effort, and money into that one bite of meat that you judge. You owe it to them to do your best.
Smoke Well My Friends,
FBA BOD MEETING 4-25-16
In the last ten days, I have probably received over a hundred emails regarding the issue of seating judges and assigning boxes to tables. I want to thank each person who took the time and effort to email me. Each person seems to have a slightly different way to deal with the issue. The proposals range from doing nothing to a total makeover of the FBA scoring system. I think this email will be very unpopular with the few who are demanding an overnight fix that involves new computer programing and a total revamp of the way a contest is run. I also think this proposal will make a lot of sense to the majority of the FBA membership.
At the risk of trying to inject some humor into a very serious subject, my wife has come up with the perfect solution. At turn in time, the team will put their box into a large slot in a computer. The computer will make various beeping and computer type noises and then spit out a score unsullied by human hands. As best I can determine, this technology does not exist today.
I am not against change per se. I am adamant, however, in my belief that we must go slowly in this matter and make decisions that are well thought out and do our best to avoid unintended consequences. I am also very strongly opposed to attempting to add anything to our computer program until the web page is totally functional. There is also the issue of money. It is pretty well known that when I took over, the treasury balance was $748 and some change. This year’s budget has brought us back to financial stability and is actually building a reserve. We must spend our money wisely and not get into projects that become pits to throw money at.
Having said all of that, I am going to make the following proposal to the Board of Directors on Monday evening:
1. The criteria for judging, particularly tenderness and appearance, in the Judges handbook will be given to the Cooks’ Committee and the Judges’ Committee for review and revision. They will be charged with providing more specific definitions of appearance and tenderness.
2. Re-explaining that we have done away with 7.5 as average and judges should score accordingly.
3. Explain to the judges how to access their scores for each event on the web page and encourage them to compare how they scored with the other judges at the table.
(NOTE: Items 2 and 3 will be done in an email blast next week.)
4. When the new judges’ handbook is approved, we will provide a summary of the changes in an email and also in a summary for the Reps to read at each judges meeting.
5. The BOD will research the cost and reliability of software that will track how each judge scores to be used for seating judges. The BOD will also research software to randomize box placement. This will be done with the understanding that no money will be spent until the new web page is totally finished in all areas. If a tracking system is implemented, it will not be used for seating judges until a sufficient data base is gathered.
I am hopeful that by providing judges with some better definitions and the ability to see how their scores compared with other judges at the table, the perceived problem may go a long way toward fixing itself.
Cook teams can go a long way toward making our judging better. Ben Purvis is compiling a list of teams that will allow a judge to cook with them. Please contact Ben and get on the list. If a judge does cook with you, don’t just use them as an observer or dishwasher; involve them in every step of the process. I will tell you from personal experience that cooking with a team totally changed the way I score.
If you are a judge, cook with a team earlier in your career rather than later. It is a really great experience.
One last item: I expect there to be a great deal of audience participation Monday evening and that is a good thing. I would remind you of the guidelines for speaking.
- Be civil. Be nice. Don’t attack other members.
- Identify yourself.
- State your idea briefly and concisely.
Smoke Well My Friends,
APRIL 17, 2016
The low scoring judge issue
The perception/reality of the judge who constantly scores low has been around since I started in the FBA many years ago. It appears that the scores at the Dothan event triggered a great deal of protest. I am going to try to cover some of the proposed solutions to this situation. Let me say right up front that I am very personally involved in the events that are being criticized at Dothan. Many allegations were made, some true-some not, and some by folks that weren’t even there. By innuendo, I understand that my wife Lorne and I were accused of rigging that event by setting up two “tables of death” and routing folks we didn’t like to those tables. That just didn’t happen but I was very upset by the allegations. Just for the record, one of the so called “tables of death” produced the grand champion. Go figure. There was a situation where four boxes were judged by the same table twice and I take full responsibility for that. I have no idea how it happened since each tray was checked and double checked for duplications prior to going to the judges and then again by the table captain. I feel really horrible about the error.
The complaints I hear deal with judges who consistently score a point or more below the rest of the table. Interesting enough, I have never heard a complaint about the “angels” who score above the table average.
One of the major complaints about the Dothan scoring was a rib that was given a low score. I happened to catch that card when it was turned in and asked the judge about it. The judge articulated several reasons why he gave the score and I accepted that. In my opinion, he just got a rib that was not as good as the others in the box. This happens on a reasonably regular basis. All chicken is not created equal. An eight piece entry usually comes from at least four different chickens. There may be slight variations in taste or length of time required to cook it. Grills have hot spots and cool spots and the piece may have been on one of these. Bottom line is that you can get seven great pieces of chicken in the box and one not so great one. To me, the pitmaster is responsible for making sure every piece is a good one. It’s part of the competition. The same goes for ribs. I often take the rib on the bottom that is used to prop up the other ribs because my experience is that a pitmaster will often hide his worst rib there.
The other general comment that I want to make is that the quality of entries, particularly brisket, has improved greatly in the last five years of so. Folks go to cooking schools and then use what they learn there to beat their instructors. Teams that were winning every event five years ago are now finding themselves in the middle of the pack. Not because they are getting worse, but because other teams are getting better.
The Board has gotten a lot of ideas for fixing the “problem” in the last couple weeks. I’ll try to list some of them here with my comments. The comments are strictly my own and do not necessarily reflect those of the BOD or the FBA.
- If a judge scores below the table average for three contests, ban them from judging. I think if we did that, we would have to ban any cook team that didn’t walk in three contests. Not really feasible.
- Throw out the low score in each category so we can be like KCBS. On the surface this looks good.However, one of the major reasons the FBA was founded was so every judge would count.In addition, it doesn’t take into account that a team may, in fact, have a less than average piece of meat in the box.
- Rate every judge an A, B, or C judge and make table assignments accordingly. The actual rating system was not specified and this would be very labor intensive.
- Create an arbitrary mean and then figure the standard deviation for each judge from this mean. It would be refigured every time the judge scored.This would be very labor intensive to gather and enter data and require a fairly robust computer program
- Figure the average score for each judge at each contest and then assign tables so they would all have the same table average. Again, this would be updated every time the judge judged. This would be done in secret so the judges never know their average score but the table average would be given to the cook teams. I am adamantly opposed to secret data gathering just on principal. Also word would get out and judges would start giving all nine point fives and tens so they could be above average. I suspect there would be lots of ties and multiple perfect scores in every contest.
- Allow judges to only score 9, 9.5 or 10. Every score below 10 would require a comment. Basically this will result in each judge giving nothing but 10’s.
- Require a comment for every score the judge enters on their scorecard.We don’t have enough time to do this and it would be a paperwork nightmare.
- Allow the judges to select their own seats and allow the cook teams to place their entry directly on the tray intended for the table they want to judge it.Cook teams would not be able to see who was sitting at what table.This one would certainly be random and would take the Reps out of the routing picture.
Bear in mind that we have over 600 judges in the FBA that we would have to maintain a data base on. That’s a lot of data folks.
One of the most important things that I brought back from the NBBQA conference was that every sanctioning body in the country is trying to deal with this problem and no one has found a solution. Chris Lilly hit the nail on the head when he said something to the effect of: “Did you ever notice that the teams that win don’t complain about the ‘table of death’ or low scoring judges?” Is it possible that we have cook teams that would rather blame a judge than take a critical look at themselves?
So where is the FBA going on this issue. To be honest, I have no idea how the Board is going to deal with it. I have no vote on the issue unless there is a tie. I have offered some things to the BOD for their consideration.
- First and foremost they have a fiduciary duty to spend the FBA’s money wisely.
- In my opinion, it is imperative that the web page be totally finished prior to spending money on and trying to add additional complex programming.
- Setting up any sort of tracking program must be done very carefully to avoid unintended consequences. A judge who gets a really bad piece of meat at several events would probably be rated a low scoring judge and flagged as such when they really weren’t.
- The membership must be made aware of any tracking program that is implemented.
- If a tracking program is decided upon based on averages, there must be a significant period of data collection prior to using it to seat judges so we do have true averages.
- We must not rush into this decision based on a few members being vocal on Facebook.
In closing, I would urge any pitmaster whose team is not actually cooking at an event to shadow the Reps and see just how much care goes into seating tables and routing boxes. I would urge judges to cook with a team early in your judging career so you can see how much time, money, and effort goes into producing the box that you judge.
Smoke Well My Friends,
FEBRUARY 24, 2016
Some questions have dropped into my email inbox in the last few days that I think deserve an explanation to the entire membership.
The first is “Why can’t I get FBA Logo items?” First a bit of history. We went out of the logo business last spring simply because we couldn’t afford it and it wasn’t working well. We had a trailer full of goods that meant we were keeping about $3,000 to $5,000 of inventory on hand at our expense. If the trailer was at the same event you were, you could get items, if not you couldn’t. Also, you had to select from what was available. There is an item on the agenda for next week’s meeting to contract with a company that will take your order for whatever item, color, size, personalization that you want over the internet and send it direct to you. The FBA will simply get a percentage every month.
“When attending the judges seminar, why do I have to download my manual?” The first reason is that it will save the FBA about $3,000 per year in printing costs. The second reason is that the manual can be updated as needed without having to be reprinted.
“Why doesn’t the FBA have a budget?” I don’t have a good answer for the past. However, in the next day or two, you will receive the agenda for this month’s Board meeting. One of the items on the agenda is a budget. I am going to ask for your indulgence when this is presented. It is based on the profit and loss statement from last year. Last year was an unusual year financially. The budget categories are deliberately very broad with the intent of refining them next year. I think it needs to be this way to get back on very solid financial ground. You will note that it is designed to attempt to build up a reserve fund approaching $10,000. Some of you will feel that we should spend everything that we get on membership goodies. To me this is sort of like living paycheck to paycheck with my checkbook. Others will understand that once we have a reserve established and a good feeling for what our annual expenses will be, we can look at restoring member goodies. A budget is essentially a financial plan. Plans have to be flexible in order to deal with changing circumstances. Please give this one a chance. If we find it isn’t working, the Board will reevaluate it.
I would remind you again that the Board welcomes your ideas, comments, and questions. Please email them to us rather than attempt to communicate them to us by other methods.
Smoke Well My Friends,
FEBRUARY 2, 2016
In this Ramblings, I want to talk about two things. The last Board meeting and the Sonny’s Invitational. The first major issue to come up at the meeting was an across the board increase in dues. After much debate by the Board, the floor was opened to comments by the members. A number of members chose to address the Board and without exception they were polite, brief and to the point. As a result of member comments, the Board essentially reversed its position and made only one small change to the membership and dues structure. They added an organizer’s membership for $40.00 per year. The second major issue discussed was the elimination of the 7.5 score as average and letting each judge set their own starting point. Again many members commented and the item was tabled until the next meeting for revision. What is important about these two events was the membership spoke and were heard. The Board exists to serve the membership not to dictate to it. I see these two items as a very positive indicator the members are beginning to take a serious interest in the way the FBA is run and are becoming much more willing to make their views known publically. Thank you members.
The newspaper continues to be problematic. The Board is diligently searching for a way that we can resolve this issue in a manner that is satisfactory to the majority of the members. In the meantime, you should soon receive the initial issue of the new, improved Smoke Bits. Bob Youngblood and Connie Washam are devoting a lot of time and effort toward making Smoke Bits something really special.
The treasury is just over $23,000 at the moment. However, the majority of memberships have just been renewed. Projected costs over the next six months include finishing the web site, replacing some of the computers and printers used by the Reps, paying the Reps for working the contests plus our normal costs of doing business. We are working on a budget but that takes time to do correctly. A poorly formulated budget could be worse than no budget at all.
About two years ago, Tony Wolfe and Angela Iverson began negotiations with Sonny’s BBQ for the FBA to sanction an invitational contest that would bring teams from all over the country to Florida. After a lot of hard work, this came to fruition last weekend. It was an amazing contest that drew rave reviews from teams, judges and sponsors alike. Angela worked countless hours helping with the organization of the contest and Tony was the lead Representative. I really can’t find words to describe what a great job they did. The out of area teams were effusive in their praise of the hospitality and the assistance with equipment, logistics, cooking and FBA style box building. To all the FBA teams that welcomed our visitors, I say a huge thank you. One of the amazing things about the BBQ world is that teams don’t hesitate to assist other teams even when they are in heavy competition. Jim Frazee did a marvelous job of organizing the judges and keeping them happy. The judges took their jobs very seriously. So much so that even the cook teams that often criticize the judging had good things to say. It is very difficult to judge entries when they are all extremely good. Finally, I was impressed by the number of members who came to assist even though they were not cooking or judging. They filled much needed positions ranging from being an ambassador to an out of area cook team to handing out programs at the gate. The FBA is really an awesome organization in my book. Thank you all.
Finally, I would like to congratulate Thomas Henry and his team for a perfect score in pork. That is an accomplishment normally but even more of an accomplishment given the teams he was competing against. Way to go Thomas.
Smoke Well My Friends,
1 FEBRUARY 2016
I’ve mentioned in previous columns that one of the huge benefits of the competition BBQ world is socializing. This was really brought home to me this weekend at the Sonny’s Invitational. Fifty teams from as far away as the United Kingdom cooked this event. I was honored to be selected as a judge and it was like a big family reunion in the judging area. I got to talk to old friends and share the joys and tragedies in their families since I last saw them. I really enjoyed meeting some new people as well. Normally it seems like folks see me and line up to complain about something they don’t like about the FBA. This weekend I only had two complaints. One from a new judge who lost the lanyard for his badge and I was able to fix that one in just a couple of minutes. The other complaint was that the porta-pot for the judges only had hand sanitizer available instead of soap and running water.
For about half an hour prior to the awards the cook teams began gathering in an area near the stage. I was able to talk to a lot of folks who had no idea that I was the FBA President so I think I got some really candid comments. I talked to a very nice young couple who were just starting their FBA career as a cook team and had come to see how the “big boys” did it. They were lavish in their praise of the folks they had talked to who were extremely friendly and gave good advice. I was also able to talk to a number of the out of area cook teams. To a person, they were overwhelmed by the hospitality and assistance shown to them by the local FBA teams. My sincere thanks to everyone who went out of their way to show good old southern hospitality to our guests. The impression that was made was both incredible and indelible.
I’d like to make a quantum leap here from the Sonny’s Invitational to the January Board of Directors meeting. The Board exists to serve the membership not dictate to them. There were several items on the agenda that I thought were good and were a slam dunk to pass. When the time came for audience participation prior to the board vote, members made a case against the proposals that made sense and in fact caused the Board to reverse its position on one item and send another back to the drawing board. I did not count the number of members that took advantage of the chance to speak but I suspect it was 15 or more. The opinions of the membership do count with this Board of Directors. I am extremely proud of the members who took their time to listen in and to voice their opinions. I am also very proud that they all were courteous, brief, and made their points well. I hope this is a trend that continues. If you can’t call in, feel free to send your comments on agenda items to the Board by email.
I would again urge you to take advantage of the NBBQA Convention in Jacksonville next month. Also, the FBA Fun Cook will be in Perry, FL, this year. It seems as if the whole town is working to make it the best ever and the committee will be providing more information in the near future.
Smoke Well My Friends,
JANUARY 5, 2016
This email is to gather some opinions about the Newspaper issue (no pun intended) currently facing the FBA. At one time, the FBA paid for a subscription to The National BBQ News as a membership benefit. That was discontinued in 2015 when it became cost prohibitive. Your Board of Directors is searching for a way to deal with this but options are relatively limited.
1. Restore the BBQ News at a cost of about $1,100 per month or $13,200 per year. This would probably result in another increase in annual dues so we don’t break the bank. Our last bank balance was about $18,000.
2. The BBQ Times is an alternative at about the same cost. For both these options, a significant amount of time would have to be spent updating the membership list sent to the publisher each month.
3. Send each member a discount coupon good for $10.00 off the subscription price for either paper. Cost about $8,000 per year.
4. Do nothing. Cost – nothing.
5. Adopt a proposal by Bob Youngblood to publish our own e newsletter Smoke Bits each month. Bob did this briefly last fall and it was very well received. He has graciously offered to be responsible for editing Smoke Bits as a monthly product. It would include FBA news, events updates, and other good stuff. He has also offered to additionally edit a less formal newsletter called Que and Chew which might include cooking tips, recipes, stuff for sale, etc. The cost to the FBA is nothing.
This issue will be on the agenda for the January Board of Directors meeting. My personal recommendation at the moment is that we try option 5 for a year and see how it works out. I have great faith my mail box will be inundated with other suggestions and that is a good thing.
Smoke well my friends,
JANUARY 4, 2016
Let me start by wishing each and every one of you and your families a very Happy New Year. May it be marked with prosperity, good health, happiness and good BBQ.
As I look back on the year 2015, I can honestly say: “Whew, I’m glad that one is behind me”. It was a very challenging year personally but not as challenging as the year some of you faced and survived. For the FBA, it was touch and go for a while but we overcame some incredible challenges and I think we are starting the New Year much stronger than we were. I would like to thank each of you who gave the new board a chance and supported us along the rather bumpy road we traveled. For the few that have declined to support the changes and the few who have let me know in no uncertain terms I am not welcome in their cook sites, I support your right to feel as you do and hope that you realize you are more than welcome to participate in FBA events. The other members of the Board and I welcome comments and suggestions regardless of whether or not they support us. We do not hold the corner on great ideas and 850 heads are better than 7. Enough about last year.
I am excited about 2016. It has the potential to be a really great year in the FBA world. We have the Sonny’s invitational coming up which will be a chance to meet, watch, and compete against some of the best teams in the country. Apopka is shaping up to be bigger and better than ever (and ever has been great). There is a new improved location and expectations of over 125 teams competing. If you have never been to a large event, this is a good one and a very convenient one. The NBBQA conference in Jacksonville is another great chance to expand your BBQ horizons. The FBA Fun Cook is starting to come to life in the planning stage and some really interesting new ideas are surfacing. Mark the dates now.
The first of the year is the time for resolutions. Last year, when I took over as President of the FBA, I had three resolutions and have managed to keep two of them. The FBA now has a Board of Directors that functions well and we are financially solvent and stable again. Although we have made significant progress with the new computer system, getting the web page finished is like nailing jello to the wall. We are working on it on a regular basis and gradually reaching our goals but I am not able to report to you that it finished on time.
All of this brings us to the FBA New Year’s Resolutions for 2016. In addition to resolving totally the web page issue, I would think the following three resolutions would be appropriate for the organization.
1. By Laws review.
2. Resolution of the newspaper issue.
3. Election of new officers.
Again, I wish you the best possible New Year.
Smoke well my friends,