Contact Information

Dr. Tony Pescatore, Ph.D.
Interim Department Chair

900 W.P. Garrigus Building Lexington, KY 40546-0215

+1 (859) 257-2686

Chicken and Turkey BBQ Contest

Chicken and Turkey BBQ Contest

Chicken and Turkey BBQ Contest

Hardin County Extension Office 111 Opportunity Way
Dr. Jacqueline Jacob 859-317-8693

Last Revised: Feb 21st, 2023

Date and Time

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Event Description

Deadline to register:  July 21, 2023, 5 PM Eastern Time


In the chicken barbecue contest, participants prepare four bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs provided by the contest monitors. The four thighs together will weigh 1.5 to 2.0 pounds in total. The participants are judged on their cooking skills. They submit three of the thighs for sensory evaluation. No garnishes, dips, or additional items shall be presented on the plates or submitted to the judges.

In the turkey barbecue contest, each contestant will be provided two pounds of ground turkey. The turkey will not be available prior to the contest starting time. They need to prepare and cook turkey burgers. Each burger must be a quarter pound of meat prior to cooking. At least 75 percent by weight of the burger ingredients must consist of the ground turkey provided. Two burgers will be submitted by each participant for sensory evaluation and no other hamburger toppings may be included.

For more information on the contests refer to Factsheet 4AJ-03PA on the Kentucky 4-H Poultry Barbecue Contests.

All Kentucky 4-Hers wishing to participate in the state chicken and turkey barbecue contests may do so, provided they register through their county agent. Participants do NOT have to have a poultry project to be eligible to participate.

The senior winners of the state chicken and turkey barbecue contests will be given the opportunity to represent Kentucky at the National 4-H Poultry and Egg Conference which will be held in Louisville, KY on the third Thursday in November. They will each receive $300 to cover travel expenses for the national event. An illustrated presentation, including factual information about broilers or turkeys, is required for the state senior level winners who proceed to the national event. Participants will be allotted a maximum of 10 minutes for the presentation. Judges will have up to 3 minutes for questions directed to participants. Easels or Powerpoint presentations may be used. This is not required at the state level.

4-H poultry barbecue programs qualify for SNAP-ed hours and funding.

BBQing Contest


  • To develop leadership talents and to work toward achieving the broad objective of developing sound character and effective citizenship
  • To acquire scientific knowledge and improved understanding of the economy, versatility, and nutritional value of chicken broiler/turkey meat and its relationship to human nutrition and health.
  • To learn the basics of food safety
  • To help youth develop skills in the preparation and use of chicken or turkey and to acquire the ability to express their ideas through participation in projects, talks, discussions, demonstrations, and exhibits.


Participants will be scored for cooking Skills and sensory evaluation.

  1. Each contestant will prepare four (4) bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (1.5-2.0 lb. total), or quarter-pound turkey patties from 85% lean ground turkey meat, provided by the contest monitors. Chicken thighs and ground turkey meat will not be available to participants prior to the event's starting time.
  2. There will be a 2-hour time limit for the preparation of the chicken thighs and a 2-time limit for the preparation of the turkey patties. One point will be deducted for every five minutes late. Fires cannot be lighted prior to the start of the event.
  3. The chicken shall not be marinated prior to the start of the contest. Parboiling and/or deep-frying competition meat is not allowed. Contestants may not enhance chicken meat by piercing, injecting, or inserting any fluid, sauce, or additive into the chicken product other than immediately beneath the skin layer.
  4. If the contestant desires, the thighs may be deboned. In addition, if deboned, seasoning or sauce may be applied to the area vacated by bone removal. Sauce or similar products can be placed in a small metal pan on the grill for heating, but the meat product may not be placed in the metal pan while on the grill.
  5. Barbecue grills will be provided for all contestants, which they will be required to use. Each contestant will be assigned a cooking space and grill along with a work area of one-half of an approximately 30-inch by 8-foot folding table adjacent to their grill.
  6. Charcoal and lighter fuel will also be available if needed. Contestants may bring their own charcoal and lighter fuel, but self-starting charcoal or automatic fire starter blocks will not be permitted. 
  7. Chimney-starters may be used, but such devices must be placed inside the grill before and during ignition and removed from the grill prior to the addition of the chicken for cooking. Fire is restricted to inside the provided grill. Burning materials outside the grills will be considered a fire hazard.
  8. The use of non-charcoal combustible fuel is to be limited. Accessories such as spits, augers, or forced drafts are not permitted. Electricity will not be provided or cannot be used. Material may not be added to the grill area such as rocks, sand, or other dense materials to aid in cooking.
  9. All other equipment and supplies, including sauce, must be furnished by the contestant. Sauce, if used, may be a commercial product or private recipe (description must be provided to judges on the recipe card to assist during flavor and appearance evaluation). 
  10. Contestants are expected to use a meat thermometer. Devices used for supporting, containing, or covering meat during cooking will not be permitted; only aluminum foil wrap may be used.
  11. Contestants must provide recipe or preparation outline cards describing sauce, rubs, or other treatments associated with the cooking of the chicken or turkey to include ingredients and special instructions if necessary, for food safety, relating to these ingredients such as keeping sauce ingredients either cool or heated. NOTE: Three (3) copies on note card stock, single 3-inch by 5-inch size preferred, containing these cooking instructions or recipe must be provided to judges – 2 copies to barbecue skills judges before starting the fire, and 1 copy to turn in to sensory evaluation judges with the cooked product. 
  12. Recipe cards need to include the following information:
    1. Name of the recipe and contestant number
    2. Ingredients and general cooking instructions
    3. If special cooking techniques were used to achieve unique flavoring
  13. Each contestant will present three (3) barbecued chicken thighs or two (2) cooked turkey patties to the panel of judges at the conclusion of their cooking time on plates or containers provided. 
  14. Prior to the submission of the cooked product for evaluation, contestants must demonstrate to the barbecue skills judges the criteria and methods they used to determine the proper doneness of their product at the time of turn-in. Judges may also independently evaluate the product at this time.
  15. Thighs may be presented either intact or boneless, however, all submitted thighs must be presented the same whether either intact or boneless.
  16. The contestant is to have turned in the product by the end of the stated cooking time. Contestants will be notified 15 minutes prior to the end of the cooking time.
  17. Cooking skills will be evaluated using the chicken cooking skills score sheets.  
  18. No garnishes, dips, or additional items shall be presented on the plates or submitted to the judges. Note that one recipe card or cooking outline card for the sensory judges must accompany the product. The product will be evaluated using the chicken sensory score sheets.
  19. No participant will be allowed to have any means of identification as to name, county, or area represented.
  20. Participants will work alone, except in case of an emergency, as determined by event monitors.
  21. Tie scores of the top five participants will be broken in descending order by:
    • Highest score in the "Finished Product Quality" portion.
    • Highest score in the "Barbecuing Skill" portion.
    • A method will be decided by the event committee.
  22. Past state winners of the Chicken/Turkey Barbecue Event at the senior level cannot participate in the Chicken/Turkey Barbecue Event again. However, the past state winner of the Chicken Barbecue event at the senior level can participate in the Turkey Barbecue event and vice versa.
  23. Past state winners of the Chicken/Turkey Barbecue event at the junior level can participate in the Chicken/Turkey Barbecue event at the junior and/or senior level providing they meet age restrictions.
  24. If, for any reason, registered participants are unable to attend, please cancel with the State 4-H Office by letter or phone, so we do not waste chickens/turkeys.


UK Publication 4AJ-03PA - Kentucky 4-H poultry: Barbecue contests

UK Publication 4AJ-02PO - 4-H Chicken and Turkey Barbecue Project Book

National Chicken Council

Eat Chicken website

Turkey Federation


Chicken barbecue

Tanner Campbell placed 3rd in 2022

Lance Munday placed 2nd in 2021

No contest was held in 2020

Ciera Kilgore placed 10th in 2019

Gabrielle Robinson placed 6th in 2018

Robert Bowling placed 6th in 2017

Laura Flannery placed 5th in 2016

Dakota White placed 10th in 2015

Harley Tabor Placed 3rd in 2014

Cody Mayew placed 3rd in 2013

Kristine Gillenwater placed 7th in 2012

Kaitlin Lemaster placed 5th in 2011

Rhonda Tharpe placed 12th in 2010

Katherine Gillenwater placed 11th in 2009

Amanda Tharpe placed 6th in 2008

Seth Tooley placed 3rd in 2007

Jennifer O'Banion placed 2nd in 1997

Kandi Erwin placed 2nd in 1996

Steven Craycraft III placed 1st in 1992

Jeremy McLaughlin placed 3rd in 1991

Dana Curliss placed 2nd in 1989

Turkey barbecue

Tommy Wilmoth placed 4th in 2022

No participant in 2021

No contest was held in 2020

Anna Sweets placed 3rd in 2019

Robert Bowling placed 7th in 2018

Dakota White placed 10th in 2016

Laura Flannery placed 8th in 2015

Cody Mayhew placed 3rd in 2014

Kristine Gillenwater placed 5th in 2013

Carolyn McGee placed 3rd in 2011

Katherine Gillenwater placed 6th in 2010

Rachelle Wilson placed 8th in 2009

Jennifer O'Banion placed 3rd in 1998

Elissa Hoots placed 3rd in 1996

Steven Craycraft III placed 1st in 1993

Jennifer Bedford placed3rd in 1990

Teresa Craycraft placed 1st in 1989

Joe Stucker placed 1st in 1988

Contact Information

Dr. Tony Pescatore, Ph.D.
Interim Department Chair

900 W.P. Garrigus Building Lexington, KY 40546-0215

+1 (859) 257-2686