6 of the best BBQ festivals in the USA

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The sun warming your back, the smell of smoky chargrilled meat, and a bar lined full with refreshing drinks that stretch as far as the eye can see.

You could say a good barbecue event is akin to meaty heaven on earth, so why not taste the very best of them? Here’s our guide to America’s greatest (and tastiest) BBQ festivals.

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American Royal World Series of Barbecue© competitions

Of all the places to celebrate being a red-blooded, All-American meat lover, why not start with the biggest BBQ competition in the world?

Catch some of the country’s best cooks fight it out over the coals for the coveted title. With over 500 teams competing over four days, plenty of kids entertainment, and a whole host of other entertainment, it’s no wonder it claims to be the ‘World Series of Barbecue®’.

October 5, in Oklahoma

Jack Daniels Barbecue World Championship

A good BBQ is nothing without a great tasting BBQ sauce, so it goes without saying that the makers of one of the best sauces in town should host one of the greatest BBQ events on the calendar.

Since 1989 The Jack Daniels World Championship has brought teams from around the world to compete for a hefty $10,000 prize.

The seven categories, which include cook offs of Pork Ribs and Beef Brisket, will have you dribbling with delight, as amateurs and grand champions compete for the ultimate BBQ bragging rights.

The fourth Saturday in October, in Lynchburg, Tennessee. 

W.C. Handy Blues & Barbecue Festival

A Barbecue festival on a sunny day, how could life get any better? With FREE live music from the top blues acts from around the country, that’s how!

A celebration of the life of the “Father of Blues” aka William Christopher Handy, festival will keep you well fed and entertained with hundreds of barbecue stalls to sample and awesome live music until the midnight hour.

June 7-14 in Henderson, Kentucky.

Southern Fried Festival

Colonel Sanders doesn’t just know how to southern fry, he also serves up a mean BBQ too. On top of the great food and barbecue competition scheduled, there will be more than 600 Hot Rods and muscle cars, live music, and even a Pinup Girl contest to keep you occupied at this Virginia festival.

Even the kids are catered for, with activities ranging from “Design your own Hot Rod” to bounce houses, making it a perfect day for the whole family.

August 23-24 in Hampton, Virginia.

Beer, Bourbon & BBQ Festival

The Beer, Bourbon & BBQ Festival is simple, pay for a souvenir glass and you get all the booze you can handle. This wild adult-only festival combines the best in music, barbecued delights and moonshine cocktails.

You may even find yourself staggering into one of the seminars where master Distillers, Brewmasters and Pit Masters from the Deep South will teach you all their trade secrets.

January-September, at various locations across the South and East coast. 

Safeway Barbecue Battle

Positioned right on the White House’s doorstep sits one of the largest and most charitable Barbecue competitions in the world.

The incredibly popular event hosts over 30 bands, displays and kid’s activities. Not only do proceedings from the event benefit the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington, but Military chefs also compete to raise money for the Wounded Warrior project.

June 21-22 in Safeway, Washington D.C.

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Header image © Shaiith/iStock/Thinkstock

Words: Lance van Dijk

Written by insider city guide series Hg2 | A Hedonist’s guide to… whose guides cover all the best hotels, restaurants, bars, clubs, sights, shops and spas.

6 of the best BBQ festivals in the USA was last modified: June 26th, 2019 by Chantelle Symester