Correct me if I am wrong but aren't NHC entry fees already 10 dollars for AHA members and 14 dollars for non members? That seems like a lot to me especially when you account for shipping. I think what some of you have forgotten is that most people are not entering their beers to "win"....they just want valuable feedback from "good" judges. The NHC is known for this.
On a side note...where does all the entry fee money go? It seems that the NHC is run on the backs of some extremely dedicated volunteers who in return might get a free lunch out of the deal. Assuming every regional comp brings in 8K....does it really cost that much to run a regional comp? Just wondering....
I would be remiss if I didn't thank all of the competition organizers who sacrifice many hours of family time and sleep to organize the First Round competitions, and thanks to the judge coordinators and competition staff who help the organizers accomplish their goal! A HUGE THANK YOU goes out to all of the volunteer judges and stewards (~1,000) without whom the entries would never get judged. It takes a small army of volunteers to pull this competition off each year, and it wouldn't be possible without them.
As the Director of the National Homebrew Competition, I can address how some of the entry fees from the competition are distributed. The NHC is the largest beer competition in the world, this year with over 7,500 entries from 1,800+ entrants.
I begin working on the next year's competition soon after the prizes are sent out for this year's competition. The NHC easily takes more than 1/2 of my time throughout the year, so entry fees pay part of my salary. This is also true for portions of the salaries of individuals in other departments in the Brewers Association that work on the NHC: Graphics, Marketing, Events, Web, Member Services, Finance, etc. The AHA supplies the pencils, pens, staplers, openers, and corkscrews to all 10 competitions, and each competition gets an advance check for the expenses of the competition, roughly $2k per competition. After the judging in the First Round, the AHA prints and mails out certificates (roughly 5,000 last year) and letters to all entrants (last year that was 1600+ mailed packages), as well as ribbons to the 84 winners per competition (~840 ribbons). The AHA awards plaques and trophies to all of the major winners in the Final Round, as well as ~84 medals to all of the winners. So this is how some of the entry fees are used.
Thanks to all of you who have made suggestions about changes to the competition to make it better next year! I'm keeping all suggestions posted here and elsewhere on the Forum in my Next Year folder, and each and every idea will be presented to the AHA Governing Committee's Competition Sub-Committee when we start deliberating on the rule changes for 2013. Keep posting those great ideas!