4-H Tailgating Contest

2020 Regional & State Championship Florida 4-H Tailgate Contest

Presented by

Florida 4-H is excited to announce the 4th Annual Florida 4-H Tailgate Contest sponsored by Winn Dixie Supermarkets, National Beef and Sonny’s BBQ.  The purpose of this contest is to promote the use of animal protein in the diet by teaching the art and science of safely preparing beef, pork, poultry, and seafood in an outdoor setting. Investment in this activity will provide 4-H youth with life skills, including decision making, healthy lifestyle choices, and communication.


All bona fide Florida 4-H members who are between 11 and 18 years of age prior to September 1, 2019 are eligible. 4-H’ers who have previously placed 1st or 2nd for a given protein at the state contest cannot participate in that same protein. All participants are REQUIRED to prepare their recipe in the presence of a parent or guardian prior to the contest. All participants will receive a cooking thermometer and a $25 voucher from Winn-Dixie Supermarkets and a $10 Sonny’s BBQ gift certificate at their respective regional contest. A minimum of 4 contestants are required to compete in a protein to justify awarding prizes, but if three or less compete, all will be allowed to go forward to the state contest. The state winner or highest placing senior (14 yrs of age by September 1, 2019) for chicken will be eligible to participate in the National Poultry Cookery Contest in November 2020 in Louisville, KY. At the National Contest the Florida representative MUST prepare an unmarinated, entire and intact half chicken or turkey breast for judging. However, this is no longer a requirement for the Florida 4-H Tailgate Contest.


CHANGE FOR 2020- No turkey allowed and ½ chickens NOT REQUIRED. Each contestant will provide enough fresh, uncooked, animal protein for two 6-8 ounces of cooked portions for the judges’ palatability evaluations, chicken included. The only eligible seafood item is headless, deveined, fresh shrimp. Pork, beef, chicken and shrimp can be marinated prior to the contest. Sauces and marinades may be commercial or personal recipe.


1 hour prior to 14” Weber grills being started- Contestants must have their uncooked proteins and cooler temperatures checked at registration. Each contestant will fill out their contestant card and a carbon copy will be taped to the plate/container to which they turn in for palatability judging. Uncooked proteins must be covered at all times and maintained at ≤ 40°F. Temperature abuse will result in point deductions. Contestants with temperature abused proteins (≥ 50°F) will not be allowed to compete. Personal clothing should be clean and neat and not present a safety concern (no loose fitting clothing or open toed shoes).

30 minutes prior to grills being started- Contestants will prepare their tables, fires, and proteins without assistance from other 4-Hers or adults. Due to fire safety concerns, contestants will not be allowed to use tablecloths or have loose leaf paper on display. Other fire safety concerns can be addressed by the contest coordinator. Contestants can use a laptop/IPad /poster & easel to complement their table top display to describe their recipe.

Fire and food safety will be observed by two judges per protein. Contestants cannot light their grills until the designated start time. Contestants must provide grilling supplies and wood chips if desired. All grills must be placed on the ground. Useful accessories can include: a lighter, grill brush, a chimney starter, tongs/spatula for meat, tongs for charcoal, apron, a hot glove, a sprinkle water bottle, basting brush, pliers, pan, etc.

Judging and Contest Curriculum

The fire and food safety judges will ask students’ questions about their recipe and safety knowledge after all contestants have been observed. The contestants should expect questions relative to their table display, proper use of a meat thermometer and the tailgate curriculum series addressing fire-building, meat selection, cooking safety, cooking equipment, and smoking and slow cooking meat. Additionally, a twenty minute “How & What to Do” video is posted to Tailgate Contest Videos

A team of three judges will evaluate the seafood and beef products, and pork and poultry products, respectively, with three scores per product. An individual will be responsible for assessing proper cooking temperature/degree of doneness. Each judge will consume up to 10 different entries of each respective protein. Contestants will be required to turn products in at specified time windows. Seafood- 45 min- 1 hr 15 min, Pork 1 hr- 1 hr 30 min; Beef 1 hr 15 min- 1 hr 45 min, Poultry 1 hr 30 min- 2 hr after grills being started, respectively. Products turned in outside of those windows will be deducted 10 points. Beef, pork, and seafood products must be cooked to at least 145°F, ground products to at least 160°F and poultry products must reach 165°F. No additional items (drink, garnish, vegetables, etc.) should be submitted. Judges will be instructed to independently score all components of the products turned in for palatability assessment (ie. skin, dark, and white meat). If present, bacon will be removed prior to consuming product.


For each protein category- First place = $400; Second place = $250; Third place = $100; Fourth place = $50. The top two individuals receive an invitation to at the State Championship Contest. State Contest awards-1st place- $1,500 – 2nd place- $1,000 college scholarship to a post-secondary institution of your choice-for all four protein contests. Payment of scholarship funds will be made directly to the accredited college or university or technical/trade school on behalf of the recipient. Winners must submit the following to the State 4-H Headquarters: two thank you notes written to the donors of the awarded scholarship(s); verification of the student’s post-secondary enrollment which could be: a letter from the institution, class schedule, or receipt from the institution with the student’s name printed; name and address of the financial aid office of the student attends/ or will attend; Social Security Number and/or Institution Student ID. In the event of special education needs, payment of scholarship awards can be directed to the recipient upon prior approval of the State Extension Specialist. Under these conditions, an IRS Form 1099-MISC will be filed with the Internal Revenue Service and the recipient for the calendar year in which it is received.

Contest Coordinators

4-H members must meet contest requirements and notify their county agent. County agents should then email Chad Carr @ chadcarr@ufl.edu and a password will be issued for those 4-H members to register on Eventbrite by 5 pm on/or before the date 5 days prior to the contest. The cap of 10 4-H members per protein category will be first-come-first serve.

Sign Up

4-H members must meet contest requirements and notify their county agent. County agents should then email Chad Carr, chadcarr@ufl.edu, and a password will be issued for those 4-H members to register on Eventbrite by 5 pm on or prior to the date 5 days before the contest. The cap of 10 4-H members per protein category will be first-come-first-serve.

Download Files

       ⇒Due to Covid-19 all in person 4-H activities are suspended through 7/31/2020.  Please check back for updates for future contests.⇐


Region 1 – Northwest District Contest

  • When: Saturday, September 12, 2020 – Registration/grill setup will be from 9:15 am CDT to 10 am with grills starting at 10:15 am CDT
  • Where: Washington County Agricultural Center, 1424 Jackson Ave, Chipley, FL 32428 
  • Counties: BBay, Calhoun, Escambia, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Wakulla, Walton, Washington.
  • Coordinators:  Mark Mauldin, mdm83@ufl.edu, & Brian Estevez, bestevez@ufl.edu


Region 2 – Northeast District Contest

  • When: Saturday, September 26, 2020- Registration/Grill set up will be from 9:15 am to 10 am with grills starting at 10:15 am EDT
  • Where: Gainesville-  Animal Sciences Horse Teaching Unit, 1934 SW 63rd Ave, Gainesville, FL 32608
  • Counties: Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Clay, Columbia, Dixie, Duval, Flagler, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Lafayette, Levy, Madison, Nassau, Putnam, St. Johns, Suwannee, Taylor, Union
  • Coordinators:  Chad Carr, chadcarr@ufl.edu


Region 3 – Central District Contest

  • When: Saturday, August 29, 2020- Registration/Grill set up will be from 9 am to 9:45 am with grills starting at 10 am
  • Where: Pasco County Fairgrounds: 36702 State Road 52, Dade City, FL 33525
  • Counties: Brevard, Citrus, Hernando, Hillsborough, Lake, Manatee, Marion, Orange, Osceola, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Sarasota, Seminole, Sumter, Volusia
  • Coordinators: Shayla Reighter mailto:shay0815@ufl.edu and Laura Bennett laurahbennett@ufl.edu


Region 4 – South District Contest

  • When: Saturday, August 22, 2020 – Registration/grill set up will be from 9:30 am to 10:15 am with grills starting at 10:30 am EDT
  • Where: LaBelle Rodeo Grounds, 20 Veterans Way, LaBelle FL 33935
  • Counties: Broward, Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands, Indian River, Lee, Martin, Miami Dade, Monroe, Okeechobee, Palm Beach, St. Lucie
  • Coordinator: Sonja Crawford, sycr@ufl.edu


State Contest

  • When: Saturday, Oct 17, 2020- Registration/Grill set up will be from 8 am to 8:45 am with grills to be started at 9 am EDT
  • Where: NEW LOCATION– Animal Sciences Beef Teaching Unit, 3300 SW 23rd Terrace, Gainesville, FL 32608
  • Coordinators: Chad Carr, Brian Estevez, Sonja Crawford