A few unconnected thoughts:
The entry fee covers not just the first round, but also the second. An option (and I'm not even sure I like it, but I'm throwing it out there) is to charge an additional fee for beers sent to the second round.
My wife and I are both judges. She's Master, and I'm National. With two high-ranking judges in the same household, we're often treated to a "personal invitation" from contest organizers. A personal gripe is that all too often organizers try to make us feel guilty, "We really
need you," or the one that makes me angry, "You're BJCP, you owe
us." I heard this from two of this year's regions. Any organizer that gives me that line will never see me.
We pick which competitions to attend for a number of reasons, including going to meet and support personal friends, going someplace new, and places that offer a unique experience. Drew's idea of special beers or a party is something that would normally attract us, but there's a problem. The last few years when regionals were hosted by Weasel Boy in Zanesville, Jay and Lori (the owners) planned special entertainment for Saturday evening, and generally treated us like royalty. But, after judging and a little partying Friday, and two flights on Saturday, all we wanted to do was crawl into bed. We didn't hang around after judging.
Finally, the organizers do a boatload of work. (I know about the second round from personal experience.) Does the AHA give them anything for their efforts? I know they get BJCP points, but I'm one who doesn't care about points (I know, heresy to some of you
). At a minimum, I'd like to see a thank you article in Zymurgy that lists the names of all of the people involved. Going further, perhaps a gift certificate to the Beertown store might be offered.