Sanctioning Information

What is KCBS?

KCBS sanctions BBQ and grilling competitions across the U.S. and promotes barbeque as America's cuisine. In addition, KCBS has an extensive Certified Barbeque Judging program that standardizes and ensures integrity in the judging process.  It is the largest society of barbeque enthusiasts in the world.

Your First Question!

When people call inquiring about hosting a barbeque contest, our first question is always, "Why do you want to have a contest?". If it is to make buckets of money the first year, you may be doomed to failure. Contests tied to other events or causes, such as promoting community awareness, or partnering with a charity tend to be more successful. Organizing contests is not a one-shot or a one-person process. Start slowly, keep it simple, and give yourself plenty of lead time. Think of it as a growing process, and you'll be on the right track. Surround yourself with capable and dedicated volunteers who share your passion for the event, delegate, and let them do their job. Is the contest in conjunction with an existing event? It is an attractive addition to a community/charitable festival with other activities. It is also a great main attraction with supporting activities (such as music, arts/crafts, car shows, and/or children's activities). Food, family, friends, and fun make a great combination. Giving the public a chance to sample world-class barbeque via competitors/vendors or tasting kits can be a great draw. (Be sure to coordinate with your local health department.)

Types of Sanctioning


Master Series Sanctioned Contest

This is the most popular type of contest KCBS sanctions.  A Master Series Sanctioned Contest requires the teams to cook 4 types of meat (Chicken, Pork Ribs, Pork Butt, & Brisket).  The cooking source at a Master Series Sanctioned Contest shall be of wood, wood pellets or charcoal.  KCBS Rules and regulations apply.  Master Series Sanctioned Contests are eligible for the American Royal and the Jack Daniels World Championship.  In addition, all KCBS team members who participate in a Master Series Sanctioned Contest earn points towards the KCBS Team of the Year awards held each year at our annual banquet. 

Click here to download the traditional sanctioning application.

Stand Alone Backyard Contest

These contests are designed to service those areas not large enough to host a Master Series Contest or are not interested in hosting a Master Series sanctioned contest. They are intended to promote barbecue in small towns across the country. They are to be comprised of non-professional teams that are required to cook chicken and pork ribs to win the Grand Championship. The cooking source at a Stand Alone Backyard Contest shall be of wood, wood pellets or charcoal.  KCBS Backyard Rules and regulations apply.  In addition, all KCBS team members who participate in a Backyard Sanctioned Contest earn points towards the KCBS Backyard Team of the Year 

Click here to download the Stand Alone Backyard Contest.

Competitors Series

For the Organizer who wants to have a unique barbeque experience, a Competitor’s Series may be the type of event you are looking for.  With a Competitors Series, the Organizer chooses the types of meats to be cooked, instead of the 4 standard meats used by KCBS.  In addition, the Competitors Series contest allows for alternative heats sources.  Traditional sanctioning fees and costs apply.  The Competitors Series Contest is not eligible for the American Royal or the Jack Daniels World Championship.  In addition, teams who participate in a Competitors Series Contest will not receive KCBS Team of the Year points.

Click here to download the Competitors Series sanctioning application.

One-Meat Contest

This is a contest where only one meat is cooked, following KCBS Master Series rules.  A One-Meat contest may be added to an existing contest as a fun event for the day prior to the main contest.  It can also be a stand-alone contest for a smaller venue or when there is less time available.  Any of the four main KCBS types of meat may be used (Chicken, Pork Ribs, Pork, Brisket).  KCBS Master Series and Backyard cooks will earn Team of the Year points for the specific category.  This provides an incentive for pitmasters to choose specific contests for extra KCBS Team of the Year points.  A One-Meat Contest is also a great way to give new teams an opportunity to try to compete in a more approachable contest.

Click here to learn more about One Meat contests.

Kosher Contest 

Kosher contests and are governed under the Competitor's Series contests because it varies in the four categories of meats usually associated with a KCBS event. A  kosher contest has four (4) main meat categories that must be chicken, beef ribs, turkey, and brisket. 

Click here to download the Kosher Contest application.

International Master Series Sanctioned Contest

An International Master Series Sanctioned Contest requires the teams to cook 4 types of meat (Chicken, Pork Ribs, Pork Butt, & Brisket).  The cooking source at an International Master Series Sanctioned Contest shall be of wood, wood pellets or charcoal.  KCBS Rules and regulations apply.  International Master Series Sanctioned Contests are eligible for the American Royal World Series of Barbecue and the Jack Daniels World Championship.  In addition, all KCBS team members who participate in an International Master Series Sanctioned Contest earn points towards the KCBS Team of the Year awards held each year at our annual banquet. 

Click here to download the International sanctioning application.


To sanction or not to sanction?

The benefits of having a sanctioned BBQ contest are numerous. The Kansas City Barbeque Society (KCBS) is the world's largest organization of barbeque and grilling enthusiasts. KCBS sanctions over 375 contests across the U.S. annually.

A sanctioned contest offers the organizer:
  • (1) Integrity
  • (2) Experience
  • (3) A built-in base of cookers and judges and
  • (4) A support system of other organizers and members.
For the teams, it offers the assurance that a contest will be conducted in a professional manner, the prize monies will be awarded as advertised, and the rules will be followed. Some events start off non-sanctioned and work toward sanction. Generally, if you start off as a KCBS-sanctioned event your contest will run smoother, have more trust from the teams, and have a higher success rate. A non-sanctioned event is not highly regarded, nor supported by teams if they are not aligned with a proven entity. However, sanctioning alone cannot guarantee the number of teams competing or the success of your event.

Starting sanctioning process for your contest:

  • Select three or four dates (if possible).
  • Call the KCBS office. 1-800-963-KCBS (5227)
  • READ this Sanctioning Packet CAREFULLY!
  • Call or e-mail the KCBS office with questions or for clarification.
  • Inquire if there is a conflicting contest on the weekend you have chosen.
  • Complete this Sanctioning Packet and mail it along with the sanctioning fee to KCBS
  • The application form along with the sanctioning fee must be the KCBS office no less than 90 days prior to the contest date.

How KCBS Sanctions a Contest:

The KCBS Board of Directors (BOD) meets each month. All completed applications with the minimum fee received in the past month are considered for sanctioning. Before sanctioning is granted, the BOD closely reviews the application to ensure, for example, that your contest does not conflict with the dates of another contest in your geographic area, the availability of KCBS Contest Representatives, among other relevant details.

After a vote of approval, you will receive an email with information on the next step of the process. Your event will also be listed on our website: Additional advertising may be purchased in the digital monthly newsletter, The Bullsheet or on the KCBS website to promote your contest. If your application is not approved, you will receive a call and/or email explaining the decision and your minimum sanctioning fee will be refunded.

The staff at KCBS is available to answer your questions, provide support and share their knowledge of conducting a successful contest. Once Contest Representatives (Reps) are assigned, they are also available for guiding you on the path for a successful contest.

All first-time contest organizers are required to attend and observe all aspects of a KCBS contest a minimum of 30 days prior to their event and submit proof of attendance to the KCBS Office, or in the alternative write a detailed contest plan to be submitted to and approved by the KCBS Board of Directors.

How much does KCBS Sanctioning cost?

Sanctioning fees are graduated based on the number of entries:

The Base Fee for a Master Series is:
  • 1 - 50 teams = $400 plus $15 per team
  • 51-75 teams = $600 plus $15 per team
  • 76-100 teams = $800 plus $15 per team
  • for more than 100 teams contact the KCBS office for quote.
Extra Fees:
  • Extra categories/ancillaries in addition to the KCBS basic four are $35 per category. Examples of extra categories are sauce, dessert, etc...
  • Ancillary Contests are ones that require additional contest set up. Each Ancillary Contest is $100 per Event + $35 per Category + $8 per team for 2 categories and $10 per team for 3+ extra categories. Examples of an Ancillary Contest is "Backyard Contest."
  • Kid's Q = $75
  • An additional processing fee of $25 will be added to the total payment that will be collected at the end of the contest. Note: If a contest is a double-header, only 1 processing fee will be applied.
A minimum Sanction fee is required with each sanctioning package. This fee is non-refundable unless your contest is not approved for sanction. After approval and sanctioning, the fee is non-refundable for any cause, including breach by the organizer of any terms of sanctioning.
The sanctioning cost is subject to change every calendar year, as posted on or before January 1st of that calendar year, regardless of the date you may send in a sanctioning request or confirmation for re-sanctioning of your contest.

KCBS Representatives' Expenses (for out-of-town travel) include:

Airfare plus ground transportation, and/or personal auto mileage at the IRS standard mileage rate on the day of the contest and/or cost of lodging and meals. Receipts from representatives will be submitted with the Representatives' invoices. (for the current rate on mileage, please visit the IRS website at and search “mileage”)

Balance of KCBS fees and KCBS Contest Representative's reimbursements are due at the end of the contest day. KCBS fees are due and will be accepted by check by the KCBS Contest Representative. Any reimbursements due to the Contest Representatives should be paid directly to them.

In the event of cancellation either by the contest organizer or by KCBS, all previously paid expenses shall be non-refundable. The contest organizer will also reimburse the KCBS Representative(s) any prepaid expense incurred by them which cannot be recouped.

What does KCBS provide a Sanctioned Contest?

  • Your event will be listed on our website:
  • Two Contest Representatives will be provided for a contest of 49 contestants or less. Three Contest Representatives will be provided for a contest of 50 contestants or more. Additional Contest Representatives will be provided based on the number of teams.
  • All judge's plates and judge's slips will be provided.
  • Computer(s) and proprietary program for tallying scores will be provided.
  • Proprietary uniform rules for the competition.

What do the Contest Reps do?

Contest Representatives:
  • Visit and greet teams
  • Supervise and coordinate the numbering & dispensing of presentation containers to contestants
  • Conduct Cooks Meeting
  • Conduct Judge Meeting
  • Conduct Table Captain's Meeting
  • Supervise the judging process to ensure rules & regulations are followed
  • Supervise the Tabulation process
  • Attend to the required paperwork: Individual scores, reporting to KCBS, contest settlement
  • Enforce all KCBS rules and regulations throughout the contest
In short, Contest Representatives ensure the integrity of your event. They are your mentors, sharing positive contest experiences. They can be your lifeline in mapping a successful event. If there is a scoring problem, rule interpretation dispute, or question about judging, your KCBS Representatives assumes responsibility.

KCBS right to merchandise and promote sponsors:

KCBS reserves the right to display, promote and sell, KCBS products and services and that of its national sponsors at KCBS-sanctioned contests. 

Next Step?
If you are ready to get your event sanctioned by KCBS, please email .