Nothing says summer quite like BBQ. Whether it’s sharing pulled pork sandwiches with friends at a quaint backyard gathering or chowing down on endless plates of saucy ribs at your favorite outdoor joint, this all-American cuisine is the perfect compliment to any warm, sunny day.
For those enthusiasts looking to celebrate a love for BBQ with like-minded aficionados, check out our list of the top barbecue festivals in the United States.
1. The Barbecue Festival, Lexington, NC
Lexington, North Carolina calls itself the Barbecue Capital of the World, so it’s no wonder it’s also home to one of the best BBQ celebrations in the U.S. Every October, the aptly named Barbecue Festival rolls into town for a day of endless chopped BBQ sandwiches, carnival games, 50-ton sand sculptures and pig races. This year’s festivities are on October 28 and promise to be nothing less than a porky paradise.
2. I Love BBQ And Music Festival, Lake Placid, NY
Nearly 300 teams from all over the world descend upon Lake Placid every Fourth of July weekend to compete in the I Love BBQ and Music Festival. Around 200 bands provide the soundtrack for the festival, which sees the teams competing over dishes of brisket, pork and chicken. The weekend also includes an antique car and motorcycle parade as well as stunt team shows.
3. Colorado BBQ Challenge, Frisco, CO
The Colorado BBQ Challenge will celebrate its 24th year this June with over 70 competitors gathering in Frisco, Colorado to vie for top honors. Aside from the competition, attendees can enjoy the Bacon Burner 6k, whiskey tours at Breckenridge Distillery, live music, pig races and a plethora of fun kid-friendly activities.
4. Tupelo BBQ Duel, Tupelo, MS
Every March, 100 teams gather in Tupelo, Mississippi to compete in the annual Tupelo BBQ Duel. The entrants flaunt their saucy talents in four categories: chicken, pork ribs, pork and beef brisket. Attendees are treated to free live music, a children’s parade, kid activities and a chance to play judge in the People’s Choice tent.
5. Kentucky State BBQ Festival, Danville, KY
One of the few barbecue festivals to not include a competition, the Kentucky State BBQ Festival is all about celebrating this smoky cuisine. A relative newcomer on the festival circuit, the three-day event includes an eating triathlon and a sauce-covered slip and slide. The festivities will be held in the first weekend of September.
6. The American Royal World Series of Barbecue, Kansas City, MO
For those who like their competitions big and raucous, there’s no better option than the American Royal World Series of Barbecue in Kansas City. The festival is the world’s largest BBQ competition, boasting over 500 teams and nearly 70,000 spectators. This year’s World Series will take place from August 31 to September 3 and is sure to be one for the books.