There are many reasons to enter a homebrewing event:
  1. Meet new people
  2. Force you to check out a different homebrew shop or brewery (where you drop off your bottles)
  3. Gain feedback from certified judges
  4. Win Prizes

I just received written feedback from 4 BJCP-certified judges. In some cases of comparing notes you can tell it comes down to personal preferences between bittering units in a northern English brown ale, but in other instances the Beer Judge Certification Program officials made the same comments. I know now that I am really close with my Brown ale. The guy that took "Best in Show" was in this category so I feel really good about my 3rd place ribbon. I think I will tweak the recipe a little based on their feedback and I could have a winner in the future. The certificate and White Labs Yeast prize were added bonuses.

I also encourage you to volunteer as a "steward" at these kinds of competitions. You are just running around delivering the samples, but learning from others with trained palettes and listening to how they review can be really beneficial for a new brewer.

Just don't get too caught up with the critique. My Christmas Ale didn't fair nearly as well as the Brown Ale. I think I was 8th out of 20. I really like the brew...but the judges wanted more ABV and more Orange. I like the balanced spices. Brew what you enjoy!