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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 of the best barbecue festivals of 2019 from your suggestions and our experience. And if we missed an important event, please let us know!


World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest

Timing: May 15-18, 2019
Location: Memphis, TN

Recognized by USAToday as the “Most Prestigious Barbecue Contest,” the Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest is a four-day competition held in Tom Lee Park on the banks of the Mississippi River in downtown Memphis, TN. Nearly 250 teams travel from around the world and across the U.S. to compete for the title of World Champion and a share of the more than $115,000 in prize money. The World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest also offers an amateur category, the Patio Porkers, which allows the backyard grillers the opportunity to test their skills against best in barbecue.

Red, White and Brews

Timing: June 15-16, 22-23 and 29-30, 2019
Location: California’s Great America in Santa Clara, California

Red, White & Brews is a hometown celebration of Americana food and fun. Weekends, June 15-30, California’s Great America’s Hometown Square comes to life with live entertainment, gourmet food and locally-sourced beer, and games and activities for the whole family. More than a beer and barbecue festival, this is summer fun as it was intended: 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).

In 2019, Red, White & Brews is proud to welcome five rockin’ bands from 2018 back to the stage. Whiskey Pass, Fast Times, California Cowboys, Country Cougars, and Jewls Hanson and Company all deliver bold, energetic music that will have you jammin’ and jumpin’!

Brew & BBQ

Timing: June 7 – 30, 2019
Location: Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio

Get transported back in time to the glory days of yesteryear at the wildest festival in the Midwest!

In 2019, the incredible flavor of cooking over an open flame comes to life as the Cedar Point Culinary Team brings a vast array of new dishes to Frontier Festival.

Colorado BBQ Challenge

Timing: June 13-15, 2019
Location:  Frisco, CO

The nation’s top barbeque pit masters are returning to the Town of Frisco this Father’s Day weekend, June 13-15, for the 26th annual Colorado BBQ Challenge. The state’s longest running barbeque competition takes place on Frisco’s picturesque Main Street and features top-notch barbeque, live music, pig races, chef demos, a firefighter cook-off, a Breckenridge Distillery Whiskey Tour and the Bacon Burner 6k.

Admission to the Colorado BBQ Challenge is free. The event helps to raise more than $50,000 annually for its non-profit partners, including Advocates for Victims of Assault, High Country Conservation Center, Mountain Mentors, the Summit County Restaurant Association, the Summit County Chamber of Commerce and Women of The Summit.

2012 Town of Frisco Barbecue Challenge, Frisco, Colorado
Photo by Todd Powell

Flights & Bites

Timing: June 16, 2019
Location: Charlotte, NC

Learn about the local craft beer scene and connect with fellow craft beer aficionados at our intimate Flights & Bites Event. Hosted by a Sycamore Brewing brewmaster, you’ll enjoy a flight of four types of Sycamore Brewing craft beer, expertly paired with samples of Carowinds’ delicious barbecue.

The Cedar Rapids BBQ Roundup

Timing: June 20-23, 2019
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.

Giant National Capital Barbecue Battle

Timing: June 22-23, 2019
Location: Washington, D.C.

What better place to enjoy classic American barbecue than in the country’s capitol?! For the past 26 years, tens of thousands of people have flocked to our nation’s capital to celebrate the “Official Start of Summer” at the Giant® National Capital Barbecue Battle, one of the largest and most unique food and music festivals in the country. For two days, amazing sights, sounds, and the hickory sweet aroma of mouth-watering barbecue replace the usual hustle & bustle of city life.

Funds raised from this year’s event will benefit USO-Metro and the Capital Area Food Bank.

I Love Barbecue Festival

Timing: July 5-7, 2019
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 11-14, 2019
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.

Windy City Smokeout

Timing: July 12-14, 2019
Location: Chicago, IL

Windy City Smokeout is the Midwest’s best summer festival with world-class BBQ and award-winning country music. In its seventh year, the Windy City Smokeout offers the best BBQ and craft beers from around the nation plus live performances from country music’s biggest names and up-and-coming talent. This year, country stars Chris Young, Old Dominion and Cole Swindell will headline and the BBQ lineup features the world’s best pit masters including returning favorites like The Salt Lick (Driftwood, TX), Pappy’s Smokehouse (St. Louis), LeRoy & Lewis BBQ (Austin, TX) and many others.

Barbecue chicken
Photo by Jeff Marini

Brew & BBQ

Timing: July 18-21, 2019
Location: Vaughan, Ontario

Canada’s Wonderland’s Third 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.

Harpoon BBQ Festival

Timing: July 27-28, 2019
Location: Windsor,  VT

Celebrate summer at Harpoon Riverbend Taps & Beer Garden in Windsor, Vermont the best way we know how—with beer, friends, live music, and some of the best BBQ! Here’s the deal: competitive BBQ teams from all over New England compete to be crowned the Grand Champion which earns one lucky team a ticket to the Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitational Barbecue. Read: you get to enjoy some damn good BBQ!

BBQ Music Fest

Timing: August 16-18, 2019
Location: Fountain Valley, CA

Ready your bib for one long weekend of smoking-hot recipes, family fun and fiery competition between spatula-wielding grill masters at the BBQ Music Fest. The aromas of smoked meat and burning wood will make you drool like a fool as you scan the food court for pulled pork sandwiches, fresh-off-the-bone ribs, tangy barbecue chicken and many other finger-licking dishes.

BBQ Music Fest offers a multitude of family-friendly activities including various live music performances, free souvenir e-photo, live interactive reptile exhibit, awesome sports action in the live sports tent, and close-up strolling magicians. Or sing along to all your favorite songs at the Karaoke Lounge with a rocking live band.

Pigs & Peaches BBQ Festival

Timing: August 23–24, 2019
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 24, 2019
Location: Independence, IA

This one-day festival and charity fundraiser is making its twelfth year the biggest and best yet with a morning 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.

Nugget Rib Cook-Off

Timing: August 28 – September 2, 2019
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.

Festi-GrÎles de la Côte-Nord

Timing: August 30-31, 2019
Location: Quebec, Canada

The first ever Festi-GrÎles de la Côte-Nord in Quebec, Canada kicks off with four workshops from our very own Steven Raichlen. Don’t miss this two-day event full of fun activities like an amateur barbecue competition, the best food and beers from the region, and blues music.

Bedford Blues & BBQ

Timing: August 30 – September 1, 2019
Location: Bedford, TX

Everything is bigger in Texas, including barbecue competitions, which will be exemplified during Labor Day weekend at the 11th 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 6-8, 2019
Location: Danville, KY

Whether you spell it BBQ, Barbeque or Barbecue, it’s the taste of America. The 8th Ever Kentucky State BBQ Festival will be coming back to Danville, Kentucky. Held 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.

Pig Island NYC

Timing: September 7, 2019
Location: Brooklyn, NY

The 10th annual Pig Island NYC event is back Saturday, September 7, 2019, at the Red Hook, Brooklyn waterfront in New York. Join 20+ chefs cooking half or whole pigs from Flying Pigs Farm. Plus a special ribs challenge! The tickets are all inclusive, food, drinks, craft beer, hard cider, whiskeys, and live music.

The American Royal

Timing: September 12-15, 2019
Location: Kansas City, KS

The American Royal World Series of Barbecue® is a longstanding tradition in Kansas City. 2019 will mark the 40th year of fire and smoke! Competitors from around the world join in the world’s largest barbecue competition. This signature Kansas City event includes incredible live music, delicious BBQ and local food, a full line up of kids activities, and a vendor fair authentic to Kansas City and BBQ enthusiasts.

Close-up of ribs
Photo by Jeff Marini


Timing: September 28, 2019
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 18-19, 2019
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 local, state, and international Lions Club Charities!

Dallas Kosher BBQ Championship

Timing: October 29, 2019
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, fifth annual Dallas Kosher BBQ. The celebrity judging panel includes Joe Riscky, John Tesar, Daniel Vaughn, Jody Dean, Gabriel Boxer, and others. 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, Twitter, or Reddit.