Summer: the season of corn on the cob, fresh dripping watermelon, beach bonfires, and all-important barbecue. No matter what style of BBQ you prefer (Texas at the Salt Lick, North Carolina at The Pit (pictured)), now you have the opportunity to foist your brisket preferences on others.

The Kansas City Barbecue Society offers laymen like you and me courses and certifications to judge professional barbecue competitions. The society hosts 300 contests across America and has confirmed a veritable army of licensed connoisseurs. These competitions aren't small potatoes either - the state championship in Washington, DC on June 26th boasts a grand prize of $20,500.

My very good friend Hayley Loblein will be missing that DC competition to attend my poorly timed wedding, but has already enrolled for her BBQ training and is looking forward to taking her oath of BBQ judgement:

If nothing else, I can guarantee she'll be known on the 'cue circut as the Barbecutie.

Log onto and sign up to find a competition or judging certification class near you.

While you wait for your BBQ expertise to be confirmed, gather some extra-curricular experience with some of these summer delicious itineraries:

And to get your bearings, check out our guide to Barbecue lingo.

It’s all you’ll need to be teachers pet—er...teacher’s side of beef?

Charlotte Savino is the online listings editor at Travel + Leisure.