BBQ contests have not yet reached the point where the contest itself offers a substantial enough purse to be economically feasible for more than one or two of the competitors at each event. By the time you factor in expenses for meat, travel, lodging, entry fees, wear and tear on vehicles and equipment just for starters, you're in the hole already....unless you are fortunate to win the $1,500 or $800 (average amounts, some contests pay less), you're never going to come out on the positive end of things.
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While I will glady pick a competition that has greater prize money over lesser paying comps, I am not in it for the money. Sounds funny, but think about it. This is a hobby. Just like any hobby, it is an expense and not a means of income. You have to pay to play. Any time that you think you are going to profit from your hobby you are asking for disaster.
While I like events that promise bigger payouts, I am not looking come home and payoff my debts. Rather, if I can recover some of the expense involved, it is more likely that I will be able to hit another competition. Bigger paying events also bring in better competition. It is more fun to compete with heavy hitters that have an extensive track record and trailer full of hardware. Before you can be the best, you have to beat the best. Still working on that, but keep your eyes open.