On Saturday, August 12, 2000, a group of barbecue cook teams, certified judges from several existing sanctioning bodies, and curious onlookers gathered at the corporate offices of Smokey Bones in Orlando. Their goal was to establish a new sanctioning body – one that would be first and foremost “cooker friendly.” This group, financed by a sizable donation by Tom and Donna Dominy, who currently cook as Junkyard Dogs, formed the Florida Bar-B-Que Association. The folks at that first meeting, who became the charter members of the FBA, convinced Joby Stanaland to take on the role of President, a position he held for the next six years as the FBA grew from that small group to now over 800 members, cook teams, and judges.
The original Rules Committee, at the charter meeting, laid down several key points that still are considered the foundation of the FBA system today. While they adopted the same meat categories as several other sanctioning bodies, the committee decided that garnish would never be in a turn-in box, that every judge’s score would always be counted, and that to give the cook teams less stress, turn-ins would be one hour apart. And while it would take over a year for the first FBA event to take place, the 2001 Funcook over Labor Day Weekend would establish another standard of the FBA that continues year after year. The first sanctioned contest – Manchester, Tennessee on October 6, 2001 – tested the system derived a year earlier and proved to the world of competitive barbecue that it could work. That contest was followed three months later by a combined Memphis in May / FBA event at Sebring, Florida, one that has become our longest running contest.
It took over 10 years, but we knew that eventually, someone would get a perfect score at an FBA sanctioned contest. But no one ever expected it to happen twice at the SAME contest! Here’s Damon Wooley, head cook of Wooley Bully BBQ Mafia and Rub Bagby, head cook of Swamp Boys – the first two teams to achieve a perfect score. Damon’s brisket and Rub’s ribs, both winning at Newnan, Georgia on October 16, 2010.
Over the years there have been any number of incidents that form the exciting history of the Florida Bar-B-Que Association. This one stands out as perhaps one of the best remembered. Many thanks to Maura Brown for providing the ancient, dog-eared copies of the National Barbecue News.
Another great innovation, started early on by Joby Stanaland, was the Celebrate Last Year Party. A chance for everyone to unwind and look back on the successful year that had just ended. Here’s the report from the National Barbecue News about the very first CLY party: