Judging Guidelines

At the ACWA, we believe wagon authenticity judging is of the utmost importance. Our mission is to promote the authentic reproduction and use of the chuck wagon, as well as to preserve the history of the cattle drive trail days. To this end, we have prepared an extensive list of recommendations and specifications to be considered in judging wagons. Without wagon judging, there is little incentive to present authentically correct wagon camps. The fear is that not judging wagons at a cook off will degrade the authenticity and result in presenting the public with improper information.

As wagons get more competitive, judging is difficult and can result in ties, especially if there are small point spreads and/or not enough individual items addressed on the judging sheets. There are several options for addressing ties, and we highly encourage promoters to have a plan in place if ties occur. One very simple method is to add the money for the placings involved and to split it evenly between the wagons (e.g. Two wagons with the highest scores would tie for first and second; monies for the two places would be added together and split evenly between the two). If you would prefer to break ties, there are several methods. One is to simply designate one judge as a tie-breaker judge by drawing before the judging begins. Another is to select a particular item (or items) as the tie-breaker or even set some "extra" items to be scored and used as tie-breaker points. Finally, simply consult with your judges and ask them to tally their points and if there is a tie, determine the winner between themselves.

The American Chuck Wagon Association, our members and supporters want to project a realistic portrayal of the chuck wagon as it was used on cattle drives. To the public, a chuck wagon cook off should be an informative, an educational, and an entertaining experience.

We understand each individual or organization involved in producing a chuck wagon cook off has its own needs to fill. Differing geographical regions, as well as different bodies, result in a need for varied emphasis on chuck wagon authenticity judging. The information we are presenting is intended as a guide to use in preparing your own judging score sheet. Some of our suggestions may not suit your area or purpose. Representatives of the ACWA are available for consultation. Please feel free to contact us for any assistance we may provide.