Head Judge of the Year

2019: – Kesa Giles

2018: – Christy Rosson

2017: – Laverne Akin

Head Judges

Laura Blount


I have been involved in BBQ for over 30 years. My husband and father are 2 of IBCA’s Founding Fathers.
I have been a Head Judge about 29 years.
I have served on many IBCA boards throughout the years as secretary and treasurer.
I am one of two IBCA Executive Head Judges who helps guide and train over 50 Head Judges and Assistants.

Melissa Briggs

Judge since 2014

Robynn Brown

Judge since 2019

I have been judging Cookoffs since 2015. I have been with 2 other organizations before joining IBCA. I have been married to my childhood sweetheart for 31 years and we had 3 children but only 2 are living. I have 4 grandchildren all boys with 1 granddaughter due in 3 more weeks. My husband and I are semi-retired. We live to travel and spend time with our children and grandchildren.

Kesa Giles

Judge since 2014

I started cooking with my brother as a team in @2005. I love to cook but don’t do competitions anymore. I love being around and meeting new people.

Kristi Griffin

Judge since 2002

My dad was on the board of directors for a local organization that ran a yearly chili cook off. My sister and I always helped and after he passed away we helped in his place. They had always wanted to add BBQ to their event but it was super expensive as there were no sanctioning bodies on this side of the state. My sister contacted IBCA and they suggested we come and train with them so we could learn and then sanction local events. The rest is history!

Maria Henry

Judge since 2018

I am a BBQ wife, have been a promoter and am a head judge. I enjoy working with promoters and cooks to make a cook off a success.

Judy Keeney

My husband and I stared competitively cooking BBQ in 1999.After many of years just hanging around I needed something to help pass the time while Walker cooked, so I started helping in the judging areas. After learning from the best (Lynn and Laura) I was ready to start running cooks-offs on my own in 2008. When it comes to BBQ I prefer ribs, my favorite are sweet with heat. During my time with IBCA I have been lucky enough to travel to many new places where I have met many great people and heard a many of great stories. Being a head judge has allowed Walker and I to travel around the country doing what we LOVE… BBQ.

Walker Keeney

Judge since 2010

I started with IBCA in 1997, and received a 10th place chicken in my first event. Have won several Grand’s and Reserve’s, along with the IBCA cookoff in 2013. I learned the judging from the best, in Lynn Shivers and became a HJ about 9 or 10 years ago. I have served as a pit boss and a region 1 director. Being an Old Timer I mainly work in the judging area where I will always do my best to help run a successful event.

Josh Kovar

Judge since 2015

Back in 2013 i was asked if i would like to put on a cook off for our local stock show. I thought sure sit back and eat BBQ no problem. Boy was i wrong. I had no idea of the how much work a BBQ cook off was, and learned so much in my first year of promoting. After the 2nd year i was ask if i wanted to learn from the big boys and get some ideas from the guys at Smokin on the Rio. So i made the trip down to Mercedes, and hung around the judging area where they look like they needed some help. After helping for about an hour or so Cruz said that you should be come a head judge. I ask what I had to do and he said “read this twice and your half way there LOL” So after Smokin I got with Lea Ann and started doing some more training, and became a Head Judge in 2015, and as they say the rest is history!

Randy Lancaster

Judge since 2017

My Uncle was a competition guy and I help him. Give me Brisket all day

Lea Anne Lemon


I’ve been involved with IBCA for about 14 years. I started when my husband, Tim, helped create Rio Grande BBQ Assoc, pit and I would help him in the judging area. I was asked to fill in at the last minute at cookoff and never stopped working as a head judge. From there I got more involved with IBCA and ran unsuccessfully for assistant pit director after RGBA split into Coastal Bend BBQ Assoc & Southern Smoke. I continued as a head judge and in 2015 Craig Sharry formed the Executive Head Judge committee. He asked me and Laura Blount to be on that committee. As an Executive Head Judge, we travelled around the state working with the head judges and assistants to create consistency in the judging area. I spear headed the creation of the scoring tool for the head judges. Over that 4 year period I felt I had more to offer and with the encouragement of several friends, I decided to run for president.

When we’re not at a cookoff, Tim and I enjoy travelling, camping and NASCAR. While at home, I enjoy DIY home improvement projects of which I have several half done since we do spend a good deal of our free time at cookoffs. Our family is continuing to grow as our kids marry and start their own families. We currently have 9 grandkids ranging in age from 20 to 1 year and one more due at the end of 2020.


Dawn Mason

I started cooking with my husband over twenty years ago. I met several people during this time and even-tually joined IBCA myself. I served as Pit Boss for South Texas for a few years and was approached to run for Secretary. I was aware of the time and commitment needed to hold the position so decided to run.

Debbie Miller

Judge since 2017

As a kid I use to BBQ with my Dad and still enjoyed it after he passed away. But it wasn’t until I met my husband Kevin that BBQing changed and went to a whole new level. He built a smoker for our son-in-law who started competing in BBQ competitions. The BBQ competitions peaked our interest so Kevin built a cooker for us, then in 2012 we started competing. Our team name when he is Head Cook is Tequila Sunrise BBQ Team. We enjoyed cooking IBCA events and started becoming interested in other aspects of the organization. Kevin ran for Region Director in 2016 and we also became interested in being Head Judges. So, in February of 2017, we were both certified as Head Judges. In June of 2017, I decided I wanted to be the Head Cook of our team because Kevin was focused on IBCA BOD business. I created Tequila Sunrise Part 2 with me as Head Cook and Kevin helping me. I enjoy competing and judging in IBCA events(only). Nothing is more exciting than getting our numbers called. It is also very exciting to judge an event and be happy for each team that walks. I am a lifetime member of IBCA and Kevin and I like hanging out with our BBQ Family at competitions.

Kevin Miller

Judge since 2017

I love to cook competition bbq with my wife. We started judging because we wanted to learn all aspects of the competition world and it is a way for us connect with our bbq family when we are not cooking.

Ed Myers

Judge since 2010

Most people know me. I have doing bbq for about 30 years. Started with my dad in the 90s on his competition team. Back then there were no money just bragging rights.

Robin Myers

Judge since 2010

We were living in Katy next door to a wonderful Lady that did BBQ Cook offs. She is the one that got me started cooking. I truly loved it and was fascinated in how the Judging was handled. Soon I was training to be a Head Judge along with my Husband Ed Myers. We started cooking as 1 team in 2009 but soon I wanted my own team and branched out on my own in 2011. I am now the Head cook of my team Lady M&M. I am more than happy to answer any questions a Team may have at any time and do whatever I can to help them. I love working the Judging area and seeing all the cooks and the product that is turned in. If you ever see us at a cook off whether we are judging or cooking please stop by and visit.

Cindy Niles

Judge since 2018

I got into BBQ judging when I joined Diamonds & Dollars and was volunteering at different cook offs, and fell in love with it. I love love ribs! I am a mother to a beautiful daughter who I raised on my own, and she has two very handsome boys (10 & 7 years old). My professional life, I manage commercial real estate all over Houston. Something that very few people know about me, I’ve always changed the breaks on my own vehicles until this last year. I grew up with gear head for a dad and two brothers, so somewhat of a tomboy.

James Simola

Judge since 2014

I started competition BBQ cooking in 2009, I became a lifetime member of IBCA in 2011, became a Head Judge in 2014. I enjoy being a head judge and will continue to do so as long as I keep having fun.

Rose Simola

Judge since 2013

My husband, Jim Simola, is also a head judge and we judge as a team. We started training to become head judges in 2013 and were certified in 2014. We do approximately 15 events a year.

We also have a competition cook team – Smokin Roses – and have been competing since 2009.

We became IBCA members in 2010 and are also co promote two successful annual cook offs in Region 3 – The No Excuses BBQ Challenge in June and the Chupacabra BBQ Throw Down in December.

In addition to judging, promoting and cooking, we also co own a BBQ Supply Store, South Texas BBQ Emporium with our daughter, Reba Beard. We opened in 2016 and love all of our South Texas customers.

H. Eddie Tapia

Judge since 2008

What got me into BBQ was a good friend of mine, Danny Luera back in 2008, started training as judge with him. Got to go with Danny and Tim Lemon the following year in 2009 to Georgia for the International BBQ event held in Coffee County. I started judging small events in the Rio Grande Valley, since there was not many here in the valley at the time, I would travel to Alice, Blanconia, Cuero, Corpus Christi and many other places. I then started meeting with several city chambers, Parks and Rec directors, and EDC offices here in the valley in trying to promote IBCA and that is when the valley took off. I have had Arnie Segovia that would accompany me to several of those meetings. I did training for several Head Judges and was also a Regional Director back then. To me BBQ is a family affair to meet up with friends and have a great time. My spouse Judy, which is an IBCA Assistant Judge as well, loves to accompany me to the events also. I have made so many friends through out the years and have learned so much from the different competitors out there. My favorite BBQ to eat has to be the St. Louis Ribs, but I love to smoke/bbq my briskets more.

Lynn Shivers

Judge since 1990

What started off as being husband’s (Jeff Shivers, Taste of Texas Cooking Team.) hobby became a passion to make sure that the cooks were given a fair chance at every event. Laura Blount and I started the same time as the need of Head Judges came about as IBCA started to grow. I have administered over judging areas from Virginia to California. I love meeting all of the cooks.
“I’m the Grandma of BBQ” or “BBQ Mom”

Brenda Waters

Judge since 2008

Because of BBQ, I have met some of the nicest people in the great state of Texas. I have memories from cooks offs, small and large, that will last a lifetime. I love the competition and anticipation of the awards ceremony.