News & Information

Barbecue Festivals You Can’t Miss This Summer


We’re sure the best cook-outs of the summer will be in your own backyard. But via social media, many of you shared with us your favorite organized barbecue festivals and competitions, from the Carolinas to California, from Texas to Tennessee. Check out the list we compiled from your suggestions and our experience. And if we missed an important event, please let us know!

Taylor Stomp n’ Holler BBQ and Music Festival
Timing: June 2
Location: Taylor, TX
Holy Smoke has been perfected and the barbecue at Stomp n’ Holler is nearly a religious experience. Dish up some mouth-watering barbecue from more than 10 members of the Texas Pantheon of Pitmasters, sit back with a cold Shiner (the #1 craft brew in Texas), and enjoy the astounding musical energy of Grammy Award-Winning Band, The Mavericks.

Red, White and Brews
Timing: June 2-3 and June 9-10 from 11 am-9 pm
Location: California’s Great America in Santa Clara, California
Taking place June 2-3 and 9-10, this is more than a beer and barbecue festival, it’s an amusement park event with larger than life games and activities for kids, plus great live music and a firework-finale! Those 21 and older can climb aboard the San Jose Beer Bike for a pedal-powered tour around Hometown Square that allows you to sip during the trip (purchase required). And new this year are two new bands: Diablo Road, featuring Jewels Hanson of “Nashville Star” fame, and the California Cougars.

Brew & BBQ
Timing: Daily June 8 – July 1 from 2-9:30 pm
Location: Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio
Visit Cedar Point between June 8 – July 1, when the park is cookin’ up a bbq festival with a vengeance in FrontierTown. Whether you come from the live entertainment, BBQ sauce making contest or the ultimate Pit Master competition, there’s something delicious for everyone to enjoy.

Big Apple Barbecue Block Party
Timing: June 9-10
Location: Manhattan, NY
Killer ‘que surrounded by skyscrapers? Live music? Cold beer? Manhattan may not be the first place you think of when it comes to barbecue, but head over to Madison Square for this over-the-top, forever memorable block party where the country’s top pitmasters serve-up their specialties.

Great Carolina Fest
Timing: June 9-24
Location: Carowinds in Charlotte, North Carolina
Kick off the summer between June 9-24 with a Carolina-style celebration for the whole family at the all-new Great Carolina Fest. Experience the rich culture of the Carolinas, including homegrown favorites like toe-tapping music, genuine eats, craft brews, sweet tea, and down-home family fun. No matter where you’re from, Great Carolina Fest is a celebration of all the reasons we love living here.

Photo provided by the Colorado BBQ Challenge

Colorado BBQ Challenge
Timing: June 14-16
Location:  Frisco, CO
Colorado’s longest-running barbeque competition, the Colorado BBQ Challenge, is hosted by the Town of Frisco, located in the heart of Colorado’s Summit County. This year, the Challenge will celebrate its 25th anniversary on Father’s Day weekend, June 14-16, 2018. The multi-day event, which extends more than six blocks on Frisco’s picturesque Main Street, features live music, pig races, kids’ activities, a firefighter cook-off, chef demos, a Breckenridge Distillery Whiskey tour, the Bacon Burner 6k and some of the best barbeque in the nation. More than 70 barbeque masters will travel to Frisco for the two-day competition, that draws more than 30,000 attendees annually. A Kansas City Barbeque Society (KCBS)-sanctioned competition, The Colorado BBQ Challenge attracts an elite group of pit masters each year making it a must for barbeque lovers to check out. For more information, including a full schedule of events, visit

The Cedar Rapids BBQ Roundup
Timing: June 22-25
Location: Cedar Rapids, IA
Hosted at the riverside McGrath Amphitheater, the Cedar Rapids BBQ Roundup brings together teams from around the country to dish up BBQ and compete in categories of ‘Best BBQ Ribs,’ ‘Best Pork BBQ,’ ‘People’s Choice,’ and more. The festival also features live music from local artists and bands and other entertainments that are perfect for the whole family.

Brew & BBQ
Timing: June 23-24 from 12 pm-10 pm
Location: Canada’s Wonderland in Vaughan, Ontario
Taking place June 23-24, Canada’s Wonderland’s Second Annual Brew & BBQ Festival will feature 70+ craft beers and ciders from the province’s best small batch craft breweries and cideries. Enjoy an afternoon sampling world class beverages by Ontario’s brightest and most innovative brewers while reveling in the perfectly paired exquisite cuisine by Canada’s Wonderland’s Executive Chef, Dilup Attygalla.

Giant National Capital BBQ Battle
Timing: June 23-24
Location: Washington, D.C.
What better place to enjoy classic American barbecue than in the country’s capitol?! Vendors, chefs, and competitors from across the country go head-to-head while attendees enjoy tastings, live music, and demonstrations by chefs and cookbook authors.

Photo provided by Cedar Point

I Love Barbecue Festival
Timing: July 6-8
Location: Lake Placid, NY
Celebrate an all-American holiday like the Fourth of July with some all-American barbecue. The Lake Placid, NY I Love Barbecue Festival’s main event showcases a KCBS sanctioned barbecue competition, although guests can also be entertained by live bands and a motorcycle parade.

Wausau Balloon and Rib Fest
Timing: July 12-15
Location: ​Wausau, WI
Voted Wausau’s Favorite Event five years in a row, the Balloon & Rib Fest has something for everyone—animals, bounce houses, hot air balloons, rib vendors and other fantastic foods, kites, and the largest fireworks show in the region.

BBQ and Brew
Timing: Daily August 4 -19
Location: Kings Dominion in Doswell, Virginia
Kings Dominion’s executive chef and culinary team are whipping up a menu inspired by the various styles of barbeque from around the country for their BBQ & Brew festival. Back for its fourth season, the event held in Doswell, VA runs daily August 4- 19 and features BBQ, Virginia craft beer including two exclusive brews – KD Brew IPA and Lager, and live entertainment.

Pigs & Peaches BBQ Festival
Timing: August 24-25
Location: Kennesaw, GA
Started in 2001 as a blues concert and barbecue cook-off for only a handful of amateur grillers, Pigs & Peaches is now a two-day festival of non-stop music, good eats by competitive cook teams, cold beer, and interactive family-fun.

Independence BrewBQ
Timing: August 25
Location: Independence, IA
This one-day festival and charity fundraiser is making its twelfth year the biggest and best yet with a morning BrewBQ Bike Ride, BBQ vendors who bring delicious new flavors to the menu selection, a Craft Brew Zone featuring over 100 craft brews, and live music you can enjoy from the comfort of your lawn chair or blanket.

Photo provided by Kings Dominion

Nugget Rib Cook-Off
Timing: August 29 – September 3
Location: Sparks, NV
One of America’s biggest and best free-entry barbecue festivals, The Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off hosts two dozen of the world’s top barbecue competitors to serve up more than 240,000 pounds of ribs for thousands of event attendees.

Bedford Blues & BBQ
Timing: August 31 – September 2
Location: Bedford, TX
Everything is bigger in Texas, including barbecue competitions, which will be exemplified during Labor Day weekend at the 10th Annual Bedford Blues & BBQ Festival. The three-day event combines the Lone Star State’s love of music and grilling with performers and pitmasters from across the country.

Kentucky State BBQ Festival
Timing: September 7-9
Location: Danville, KY
Held for the first time at the historic Wilderness Trail Distillery, this year’s KY State BBQ Festival features celebrity pitmasters and great music, food, beer, and bourbon—promising fun for the entire family.

The American Royal
Timing: September 13-16
Location: Kansas City, KS
Get ready for a smoky finish to summer. Head over to Kansas City for the American Royal World Series of Barbecue and you’ll experience the world’s largest barbecue competition, boasting of over 500 teams and 70,000 spectators.

Timing: September 29
Location: Minocqua, WI
For more than 50 years, Beef-a-Rama has been held on the last Saturday of September, with roasters cooking their signature beefs before dawn and more than 12,000 people filling the streets to enjoy it. This creative festival gives you many choices as a visitor—join the crowd and dress up in a cow-themed costume, participate in the 5K and 10K Rump Roast Run and Walk along Lake Minocqua, shop around the Prime Choice Craft show’s 70+ vendors, watch the Beef Eating Contest and the Cow Pie Plop and and the famous Roaster Parade—all culminating in a one-of-a kind fun you can only find in the Northwoods.

Smokin’ Blues & BBQ Festival
Timing: October 19-20
Location: Duncanville, TX
The Smokin’ Blues & BBQ Festival is a KCBS sanctioned BBQ competition & live blues music festival hosted by the Duncanville Lions Club and the City of Duncanville. Mouthwatering BBQ, delicious food vendors and some amazing blues bands are just a few of the things you can expect for this weekend event. Shop the arts and crafts vendors, let the kids participate in their very own Kids Cook-Off, and listen to some wonderful music. Event net proceeds will benefit Lions Club local, state and international charities.

Dallas Kosher BBQ Championship
Timing: October 28
Location: Dallas, TX
Under the supervision of rabbinical experts and the world-renowned Kansas City Barbeque Society, teams from around Texas and beyond will compete in the delectable and family-friendly, fourth annual Dallas Kosher BBQ. The celebrity judging panel includes Jill Bergus, Vicki Nivens, Daniel Vaughn, Jody Dean, and others. The daylong festival includes music from Counterfeit Radio, great food, a play zone for kids, barbecue preparation and judging, award presentations, and more. Admission is free and food is available for purchase. Proceeds of the event will benefit the Congregation Beth Torah Men’s Club and Community Homes for Adults, Inc.

Have a favorite festival near you? Tell us about it in the comments or on Facebook or Twitter.

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