BCOE&M 2.1.10: Competition Organization with BCOE&M

This document will (hopefully) help competition organizers to effectively run their competition when utilizing BCOE&M as their primary tool for gathering entries and organizing their competitions.

This is by no means a definitive guide to competition organization...there are many ways to run a competition.

This guide is for organizers to effectively run a competition with BCOE&M as their main organizational tool.

Preparing

A significant amount of headaches for organizers can be mitigated with thorough competition preparation.

First and foremost, recruit dependable people. You won't be able to pull off the competition alone, so don't even try.

Getting at least two to three dependable people to help you organize will help you keep things running smoothly, not to mention help you keep your sanity.

Size Does Matter

Really. It does. If your competition is small, you should be able to have great success in organizing the competition with a small cadre of people - maybe three to four core team members and other ancillary volunteers to help with large tasks like picking up entry bottles and sorting.

For instance, the steward coordinator may be able to serve as the cellar master, the judge coordinator can be in charge of getting sponsors, etc.

At minimum, you will need one or more dependable people to serve in the following roles (some may have dual functions):

  • Overall Competition Organizer (you)
  • Judge Coordinator
  • Steward Coordinator
  • Sponsor Coordinator
  • Awards/Medal Coordinator
  • Sponsor/Swag Coordinator
  • Website and/or Social Media Coordinator (also may be in charge of promoting the competition)
  • Cellar Master
  • Cellar Staff
  • Sorting Staff
  • Data Entry Staff

However, the larger the competition, the more cooks need to be in the kitchen. Once your competition moves past the 250-300 entry mark, you'll need at least one person dedicated to each of the roles above, plus others as your competition needs dictate.

Just remember, though, you are the head chef, the big cheese – so you'll need to be able to organize and delegate tasks effectively and efficiently.

Competition Judging Date(s)

First, decide on a competition date or set of dates. If your competition is well established and is on a regularly scheduled interval, you should be good to go.

However, if your competition is new, choose your dates carefully, since there are a number of factors that play into success or failure:

  • Are there any other competitions in the area at the same time that may draw judges away from yours?
  • Are any judging dates around a holiday that may impact recruitment of judges?
  • Are any judging dates close to the date of a major national event (Super Bowl, election, national holiday)?
  • Are any judging dates a weekday?

The first competition I coordinated was held in early December, which seemed like a logical time to hold a competition to my club at the time - there were no other comps around that date.

Man, were we wrong.

Getting judges to commit to a day of judging smack dab in the middle between Thanksgiving and Christmas was the biggest challenge we had. Turns out there was a good reason why no competitions were held at that time.

Luckily, the competition had less than 100 entries, so it was manageable, but we learned that December wasn't the best time to hold a comp, so we moved it to late January.

If your competition is established, chances are it's always around the same time of year - the third week of August or the second Saturday in November, for example. The above considerations are still in play, but may not have as much of an impact since your competition has been in its "regular" slot for multiple occasions.

Before Judging Day(s)

You'll need to consider a lot of things well in advance of the judging date(s). Keep in mind these are my suggestions based upon what has worked for me in the past.

  • Register the competition with the BJCP if you wish it to be sanctioned.
  • Explore and secure judging locations. Wherever you investigate, keep in mind local liquor laws and also the following:
    • Is the potential venue relatively quiet?
    • Are there any external factors that may affect judges' sensory perceptions (e.g., are there any unusual odors, etc.)?
    • Does each location have WiFi or Internet connectivity?
    • Will you need multiple judging sessions?
    • What time will you start each session?
    • Is there cold storage for entries?
  • Explore and secure a sorting location. Often this is the same venue where your judging will occur. You will need a space that will accommodate multiple bottles of the number of entries you expect. Bigger is better. Also:
    • Does that place have WiFi or Internet connectivity?
    • Is there cold storage available?
  • Secure drop-off and shipping locations.
  • Put together a potential sponsors list. If your comp is well-established, use the list used previously.
  • Set up a shipping location for sponsor swag.
  • Get a list of area judges from the BJCP. Send a "save the date" email to that list.
  • Set up your BCOE&M website.
  • Set up social media sites.
  • Secure Pro-Ams with local breweries.
  • Secure hotel accommodation discounts for out-of-town judges, stewards, and staff.
  • Begin securing sponsors. You will need help with this, trust me. Find sales-oriented people in your club or organization to make calls and to send emails, most especially if sales isn't your thing. The better your swag, the more entries, and the happier your judges.
  • Confirm with the proprietors of your drop-off, shipping, sorting and judging location(s) that everything is still a go.
  • Devise a plan for providing competition day food for judges, stewards, and staff. This can be a simple as doughnuts and coffee in the morning and deli trays for lunch or food vouchers for lunch. No matter what the budget, it is imperative to provide food and plenty of water for those who are giving up their time to volunteer.
  • Send another "save the date" email to judges in the area.
  • Send your first "call for judges" via email, social media, and any forums like the AHA Forum, HomebrewTalk, etc.
    • Make sure that you have set the judge registration date on your BCOE&M installation to the date you communicate.
  • Confirm with the proprietors of your drop-off, shipping, sorting and judging location(s) that everything is still a go.
  • Solidify competition day food and non-alcoholic drinks. Don't leave this until last. The last thing you need are a bunch of hungry judges and stewards to contend with on comp day.
  • Inventory sorting day materials:
    • Boxes for sorted entries
    • Box identification sheets - these are available for printing in your BCOE&M installation from the Admin Dashboard > Reports section.
    • Markers
    • Label stock (e.g., round labels for bottle caps and necks, Avery 5160 to use for barcode scanning stickers)
    • Barcode scanner(s)
  • Inventory judging day materials:
    • Mechanical pencils
    • Staplers and staples
    • Paper clips
    • Bottle openers
    • Tasting cups - you can't have enough of these. Buy two times what you think you'll need. Trust me on this one.
    • Dump buckets
    • Water pitchers
    • BJCP Scoresheets (Beer, Mead, and Cider)
    • Entry Cover Sheets
    • Flight Summary Sheets
    • Judge Waivers
    • Judge Evaluation Forms
  • Follow up with any sponsors that have either a) committed to sending swag, or b) have not responded.
  • Send your first "call for entries" via email, social media, and any forums like the AHA Forum, HomebrewTalk, etc.
    • Make sure that you have set the account registration, entry, drop-off, and shipping window dates on your BCOE&M installation to align with the dates you communicate.
    • Use the "Promotional Materials" options in the Admin Dashboard > Data Exports section of your BCOE&M installation to export to vital information to Word, HTML, or BBCode.
  • Confirm sorting date and location. Recruit volunteers.
  • Send your second/final "call for entries" via email, social media, and any forums like the AHA Forum, HomebrewTalk, etc.
    • Make sure that you have set the account registration, entry, drop-off, and shipping window dates on your BCOE&M installation to align with the dates you communicate.
    • Use the "Promotional Materials" options in the Admin Dashboard > Data Exports section of your BCOE&M installation to export to vital information to Word, HTML, or BBCode.
  • Pick up entries from drop-off locations and shipping location. Use the drop off reports available by going to the Admin Dashboard > Reports section of your BCOE&M installation.
  • Deliver all collected entries to the sorting location(s).
  • Sort received entries...
    • Print sorting sheets and cheat sheets from the Admin Dashboard > Entry Sorting section of your BCOE&M installation.
    • Designate roles for sorting staff: box setup and organization, data entry, runners, etc.
    • If your competition is utilizing the barcode or QR code entry check-in methods, make sure to review the suggested sorting procedure and download the barcode and round judging number labels from brewcompetition.com.
    • Print all bottle labels on the appropriate stock - BCOE&M supports Avery 5160 (Letter), Avery 3422 (A4), Online Labels OL32 0.50 inch/13 mm Round (or equivalent), and Online Labels OL5275WR 0.75 inch/19mm Round (or equivalent) label stock.
    • Be sure to mark all entries as received in the system - only entries marked as received are available in the entry pool when setting up tables in the system.
  • After sorting...
    • Assign staff, judges, and stewards to their respective pools by going to the Admin Dashboard > Organizing section of your BCOE&M installation.
    • Define all judging tables by going to the Admin Dashboard > Organizing section of your BCOE&M installation.
      • Define all flights (not needed if your competition is utilizing queued judging).
      • Assign tables or flights to rounds based upon their judging location.
      • Assign judges and stewards to tables/flights.
    • Email judges and stewards informing them of their assignments.
  • Purchase any needed judging day materials, including all necessary label stock (for judge scoresheet labels, name tags, etc.), printer cartridges, paper, etc.
  • Make copies of all necessary documentation - you will need plenty of scoresheets, cover sheets, flight summary sheets, judge waivers, and judge evaluation forms that are available for download from the BJCP website. Order waaaaay more than you think you need. I'm not kidding.
  • Make adjustments to judge and steward table assignments as necessary. Schedules change, so you need to be ready for it.
  • Print all pullsheets by going to the Admin Dashboard > Reports section of your BCOE&M installation.
  • Print table cards by going to the Admin Dashboard > Reports section of your BCOE&M installation.
  • Print judge and steward sign in sheets by going to the Admin Dashboard > Reports section of your BCOE&M installation.
  • Print lists of judge and steward assignments for reference by going to the Admin Dashboard > Reports section of your BCOE&M installation.
  • Print judge scoresheet labels by going to the Admin Dashboard > Reports section of your BCOE&M installation.
  • Print name tags for judges, stewards, and staff by going to the Admin Dashboard > Reports section of your BCOE&M installation.
  • Make one last materials inventory check.

Competition Judging

The time has arrived. All the logistical wrangling and all of the planning has come to fruition.

Now, I'm not going to tell you how to run your competition. The way you do things is totally up to you and your staff. However, I will break down some best practices on how to utilize BCOE&M to your greatest advantage during the judging session(s).

  • Data entry of scores via the Admin Dashboard > Scoring functions:
    • Add/Edit/Manage scores by table. Here is where you will record the score each entry earns. There are various ways stewards can record scores - the BCOE&M pullsheets do feature a box for score and whether an entry advanced to the Mini-BOS at the table.
    • Add/Edit/Manage BOS entries and places.
    • Add/Edit/Manage Custom BOS Categories and their associated entries (such as Pro-Ams, etc.).
  • If you have a auto-feed scanner available, consider scanning each entry's scoring documentation as it comes in. This will save some time on the back end and will have the added advantage of making scoresheets available to entrants quickly via their User Account page of your BCOE&M installation.
  • Utilize the various reports available by going to the Admin Dashboard > Reports section of your BCOE&M installation.
    • If your competition does separate Mini-Best Of Show rounds, there are pullsheets available when used in conjunction with the Scoring Mini-BOS check box data entry feature.
    • There's a section called "During Judging" that provides some great Best of Show (BOS) preparation materials:
      • BOS pullsheets by style type.
      • BOS cup mats to help BOS judges to accurately separate and evaluate the BOS entries.

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