4-H Tailgating Contest

2019 Regional & State Championship Florida 4-H Tailgate Contest

Presented by

Florida 4-H is excited to announce the 3rd 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, 2018 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 $15 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.


Each contestant will provide enough fresh, uncooked, animal protein for two 6-8 ounces of cooked portions (excluding poultry) for the judges’ palatability evaluations. Poultry contestants will submit a 1/2 chicken or one turkey breast for judging (see national rules for more information by visiting http://www2.ca.uky.edu/national4hpoultry/ ) Poultry contestants will submit one unmarinated, entire and intact half chicken or turkey breast for judging.  To ensure poultry products have not been marinated, they should be presented at registration in original retail packaging.  The only eligible seafood item is headless, deveined, fresh shrimp.  Pork, beef, and shrimp can be marinated prior to the contest.  Sauces and marinades may be commercial or personal recipe. The State winner or highest placing senior (14 yrs of age by September 1, 2018) for poultry (chicken/turkey) will be eligible to participate in the National Poultry Cookery Contest in November 2019 in Louisville, KY.


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, 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.  A captain for both teams of judges will be responsible for assessing proper cooking temperature/degree of doneness.  Each judge will consume up to 10 different entries of each respective protein. Products will be turned into judges in stages.  Target turn-in times will be Seafood- 1 hour and 10 min; Pork 1 hour and 35 min; Beef 2 hours; and Poultry 2 hours and 25 minutes after grills being started, respectively. Products turned in 10 or more minutes earlier than target times will be deducted 10 points.  All red meat 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.  Judges will be instructed to independently score all components of the products turned in for palatability assessment (ie. skin, dark, and white meat) but will not consume garnish, vegetables, or other proteins which wrap the primary product (i.e. ham or bacon-wrapped shrimp).

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; 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

Each contest coordinator will have: (1) acquired event insurance via American Income Life; (2) acquired a first aid kit; (3) provided grills, cleaning brushes, cleaning solvent, lighter fluid, charcoal, plastic gloves, and half of a 4 × 8 ft. table to each contestant; (4) acquired the services of 14 judges, 2 per protein for food and fire safety assessment (n = 8), and 3 each to evaluate the seafood and beef products, and pork and poultry products, respectively (total n = 6); and (5) provided 5 printed scoresheets on carbon paper per contestant (2 for food and fire safety and 3 for sensory).

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 p.m. 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


Region 1 – Northwest District Contest

  • When: Saturday, July 20, 2019 – Registration/grill setup will be from 9:15 a.m. to 10 a.m. with grills starting at 10:15 a.m. CDT
  • Where: Washington County Agricultural Center, 1424 Jackson Ave, Chipley, FL 32428 
  • Counties: Bay, 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, May 18, 2019 – Registration/grill setup will be from 9:15 am to 10 a.m. with grills starting at 10:15 a.m. EDT
  • Where: 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: Sunday, April 7, 2019 – Registration/grill setup will be from 11:15 am to 12 p.m. with grills starting at 12:15 a.m. EDT
  • Where: Withlacoochee River Park, 12449 Withlacoochee Blvd, Dade City, FL 33525
  • Counties: Brevard, Citrus, Hernando, Hillsborough, Lake, Manatee, Marion, Orange, Osceola, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Sarasota, Seminole, Sumter, Volusia
  • Coordinator:  Jean Hink, jmhink@ufl.edu


Region 4 – South District Contest

  • When: Saturday, August 17, 2019 – Registration/grill setup will be from 9:15 am to 10 a.m. Competition starts at 10:15 a.m. 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, September 28, 2019 – Registration/grill setup will be from 8 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. with grills to be started at 9 a.m. EDT
  • Where: Straughn IFAS Extension Professional Development Center,  2142 Shealy Drive, Gainesville, FL 32611
  • Coordinators: Chad Carr, Brian Estevez, Sonja Crawford