Best BBQ Festivals and Competitions

When we think of barbecue, beer, bourbon and even blues come to mind. Here are some of our favorite BBQ festivals and competitions that deliver on all of the above.
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Photo By: Sam’s Club Media Relations

Photo By: Beer, Bourbon, & BBQ Festival

Photo By: Jack Daniels World Championship Invitational Barbecue

Photo By: Safeway Barbecue Battle

Photo By: Atlanta BBQ Festival

Photo By: Bryan Leazenby

Photo By: Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo

Photo By: Eric Schwortz

Sam’s Club National BBQ Tour

If you’re craving a good ‘ole fashioned showdown, you can watch the barbecue experts compete in Sam’s Club parking lots nationwide. The competitions span 5 regions -- from Tennessee to Nevada -- so there’s a good chance to see a grill master near you.

Beer, Bourbon & BBQ Festival

Pick your poison, and then pick your ‘cue -- whole-roasted hog, pulled pork, brisket … the options are endless. As are the drinks, so make sure you have a safe ride home if you plan to taste the unlimited samples of bourbon and craft beer included with admission.

Jack Daniels World Championship Invitational Barbecue

One of the most prestigious barbecue competitions in the world takes place on the fourth Saturday of October in Lynchburg, TN. Every year thousands of people flock to “the hallow” to see the best of the best compete in pork ribs, pork shoulder, beef brisket and chicken as well as sauces and desserts.

Safeway’s National Capital Barbecue Battle

The annual 2-day competition along Washington, DC’s Pennsylvania Avenue has something for everyone, including top barbecue chefs and vendors, cooking competitions and demonstrations, as well as lots of samples and non-stop live entertainment. Bonus? It benefits local Boys & Girls Clubs.

American Royal World Series

Kansas City, MO, is home to “The World Series of Barbecue,” the world’s largest BBQ competition -- with 500 teams competing and 70,000 spectators. The larger American Royal event spans 2.5 months and also includes a parade and a professional rodeo (with a $300,000 prize package).

Atlanta Bar-B-Q Festival

Now in its fifth year, Atlanta’s Bar-B-Q Festival calls itself the “crossroads” of barbecue, celebrating Texas, Carolina, Memphis, St. Louis and Kentucky style.

International Bar-B-Q-Festival

Every second week in May, the town of Owensboro, KY, attracts a crowd of 85,000 people with square dancing, arts and crafts, and, of course, barbecue. Teams serve up a variety of meats including chicken, mutton and burgoo (a spicy stew) all vying for the Governor’s Cup.

Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo

While it’s billed at the world’s largest livestock show, don’t be fooled by its name. Since 1974, the weekend before the livestock show is the 3-day, World Championship Bar-B-Que Contest. More than 300 teams of veteran pit masters dish out Texas-style ‘cue -- pork ribs, beef brisket and chicken, all smoked to perfection.

Big Apple Barbecue Block Party

When you think of barbeque, chances are New York City doesn’t come to mind. But this Madison Square Park block party is more than a decade old and proves New Yorkers heart BBQ, too.

Memphis in May

Each May, the city of Memphis, TN, is taken over by a series of arts, music and culture festivals. But the main event is the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, when competitors from all over the world flock to this barbecue capital with their elaborate smokers and whole hogs. For a taste of the action, don't miss the Willingham family's booth -- they're the only competitors allowed to sell their Southern delicacies to the public.

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