Pentathlon Judging

Judging at the Ice Dragon Arts & Sciences Pentathlon

The Ice Dragon Pentathlon is always in need of judges. Their knowledge and expertise make this competition possible. If you are interested in helping with judging, please complete our Judging Sign-up Form.

Judging Groups

We have been slowly moving in a new direction with our approach to judging. In the past, each judge was siloed, expected to work the material and entries completely independently. It was thought at one point that this was required so that no one strong-willed judge could ‘sway’ the judging. To my knowledge, in my almost three decades of varying association with the Pentathlon, this has not been an issue.

In order to take better advantage of the variety of talents and strengths available to us in our judging cadre, we are introducing judging groups. Organized by major category topic, we would like to get judges, potential judges, associate judges, judges-in-training, and interested individuals communicating in the months leading up to the event in order to provide opportunities to discuss the methodology we use, to refine the base criteria to better suit their topic areas, to learn more about each other’s subject matter knowledge, and to better organize the judging assignments at the event. I will be talking to various guilds and groups to get this project off the ground and I will be recruiting individuals to help with organizing both ahead of time and at the event.


If you are interested but aren’t sure about the process of judging, we have a program for Associate Judges. You can sign up as an Associate Judge, get assigned to work with and shadow an experienced Judge when they go through their assigned categories.

Judges Feedback

Each judge will have their own scoring sheets, which will be submitted to the Pent staff, and their written commentary will be provided to the participants. Yes, YOU get to provide your opinion on what’s really cool at the pent!

The Option to Recuse to Maintain Objectivity

If any individual for any reason does not feel they can maintain objectivity when judging a particular item, they can recuse themselves. And contrary to the standard assumption, we have never had a judge giving their own people a boost. If anything, they can be harder on their own associates. Recusing themselves is recognized as best practice.

Judging AND Entering? Yes, It Is Possible!

Another reason why we lose good judges is because they’ve decided to enter the competition. We LOVE having this problem! If you are entering the Grand Pentathlon, yes, you should take this year off from judging. But, if you’re only entering one or two categories, and you have knowledge and experience in other areas, there’s no reason you can’t judge a category you haven’t entered. We would love to have you.

Judges Contact Information

We maintain a database of judges with contact information and the categories they feel comfortable covering. When you contact us, you will get a short questionnaire to gather this and some other information that is helpful in making judging assignments. Some of you have gotten the short-form verbally from me in the past two years. You may just be asked if your information is correct.

Pent Website Will Be Open To the Populace

This year will obviously be a bit different as we can’t be together. All of the entries will be available, with their documentation, on the Pentathlon website. There will be space for moderated commentary from the public.

You as a judge will be able to use the photographs and documentation uploaded by the entrants to fill out your score sheets based on the Ice Dragon criteria. We anticipate at least a week for you to really take the opportunity to look at the entries and the documentation. We will then schedule judge’s meetings via Zoom so you can chat with each other before making final decisions on scoring.

As in past years, there will be space on the score sheet for your commentary. You will be able to fill out your score sheets online.

If you do not have access to be able to fill out forms online, we can accommodate you via email.

At this time, we need to discuss three issues that have been brought to my attention in the last year:

First: Not all people want to judge the Pentathlon.

There are any number of reasons for this, ranging from “I get cold sweats trying to judge people’s work and my anxiety about it makes me ill”, to “This is a Baronial event and they should be able to handle it with their own people”, to “I can’t stand cori and I won’t work with her” to “I have too much on my plate at Ice Dragon and I can’t fit one more thing”, to “I have judged every year for the last ten and I need time off”. Believe me, I have heard them all. And I have no problem with any reasons someone may have. The decision to not judge is a personal choice and the reasons for it are no one’s business but the person making that choice.

However, I cannot read minds. I am going to be chasing everybody as potential judges. If you can’t or won’t judge, let me know and I will put you on a list of people to not contact. It will helpful to know if it is a temporary or permanent decision, so if it’s only this year, we can keep your contact information for next time.

Second, there is a fascinating rumor that I periodically hear about judging competitions in general and the Ice Dragon competition in particular. Some people are convinced – and spend a lot of time convincing others – that you need to have a Kingdom level, or a Grant level, or a Peerage level arts award to be capable of judging a competition. Contrary to this “myth,” I am happy to talk with ANYONE who is interested in judging. We need to establish your knowledge base in the areas you feel comfortable judging. You need good people skills and communication skills. And last but not least, you must be kind. We have entrants ranging from six year olds to fragile new artists entering their first competition to old pros who weathered PhD presentations at Ivy league schools. And all of them need to treated gently and with dignity.

Lastly, at the Pentathlon in 2018, we had a piece of artwork damaged. An unknown individual handled a scroll with chocolate on their hands. This is not acceptable. In an effort to prevent this from recurring, food will not be allowed in the Pent room except entries at the Culinary and Beverage category table. All judges are requested to wash their hands before handling the entries and gloves will be available. We will not be requiring them.

Thank you for your patience waiting for the Pentathlon information and your support in making this marvelous event happen.

As always, yours in Service,


Interested parties may contact Cori by email.