I would think that "pulled pork" is different from sliced pork butt. It may be cooked the same but how it's shredded (chopped or pulled), the amount of fat included in the meat (can't be picked away by the judge), the amount of sauce mixed into the pulled pork(can't be scrapped off) and the presentation are different. You also have to rely on the taste of the meat instead of use the smoke ring as proof of a good smoke. You're right I don't visit many competitions, visitors usually don't get to experience/taste the submitted entries so I never bother. The plate presented to the judges is different than the food dished out to the public.
Catfish? as a side entry? Also every cole slaw I have ever made was mayo and vinegar based, which would have disqualified me because the "judges" wanted vinegar and sweet. Are there rules as to how the slaw should be prepared? In your competitions in Iowa are the competitors notified of the sides before the event, or just 1 hour prior to submittal? My slaw sits in the refrigerator overnight before serving.
I'll watch the next show, or I should say that the next show will be part of my normal channel flipping.