The smell of mouth-watering barbecue will be in the air Friday at the Missouri State Fair. The “Show-Me Tailgate Throwdown” Barbecue Contest will bring together competitors from Missouri for year-long bragging rights.

Tiffany Dowell, the superintendent of the contest, said the judges never know what they are going to bite into.

“I always like when we have a, like a stuffed burger, just because it’s kind of a surprise. You bite in there and you’re like, ‘Oh, I didn’t expect that!’ So the stuffed burgers a lot of times are pretty popular with the judges. A general rule with judges is you don’t want to get too spicy, because if they can’t taste anything after that it kind of sticks with a while. They’re like, ‘Okay, it was good, but my taste buds aren’t with me anymore.’ So you never want to get too spicy. One year there was a brat that had kind of a caramelized bacon around it where they wrapped the bacon around it and added the brown sugar and got it kind of crunchy. But you had a 360 of crunchy, savory bacon around your brat. So that was a big hit with the judges,” said Dowell.

The competitors are judged based on appearance, taste, and tenderness.

If you are hoping to be a judge for the annual contest, get in line. Dowell said there’s quite the waiting list.

According to Dowell, being a judge is not for the faint of heart.

“For each category, you have to take at least one bite of each entry. But if you get a really good turn in, it’s hard to stop at one bite. Well, if you do that on several things before you know it, you’re a lot of bite ins and you may have another whole category to judge. So you definitely have to be a big eater. You can’t be a picky eater,” said Dowell.

The public can check out the contest at 11 a.m. Friday at the Matthewson Exhibition Center.

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