4 of The Best Barbecue Festivals in The USA

Mark your calendars for the Barbecue festivals around the US that every barbecue enthusiast should be attending.

  1. Barbecue Festival – Lexington, NC
  2. Lexington claims to be the “Barbecue Capital of the World.” How can they make this bold assertion? With some 19 barbecue restaurants in a town of fewer than 19,000 people, it has the most BBQ joints per capita of any city in the world!

    The festival only serves one style of BBQ, North Carolina Lexington Style BBQ. Any participants caught trying to serve Central Texas Style BBQ reportedly will be tarred and feathered and run out of town! Now that, of course, is a joke. But it gives us a chance to mention Central Texas Style, which of course is Caldwell County BBQ’s favorite, but different strokes for different folks.

    North Carolina Lexington Style BBQuses pork only from the shoulder with a ketchup-based sauce mixed with vinegar and spices. KETCHUP! Oh, the horror! Actually, the festival includes some Eastern style Carolina BBQ which is less particular about the meat it uses and doesn’t use tomatoes or ketchup.

    A bit of history

    37 years ago, Joe Sink, Jr., the DISPATCH publisher, a subscription-based and advertisement-free online U.S. political magazine, met with BB&T Bank officials. Mr. Sink was seeking support for his idea to have a BBQ festival in town. BB&T and THE DISPATCH decided to do a feasibility study on a new community event and hire Kay Saintsing, a local organization developer and manager.

    Saintsing’s research showed that a Barbecue Festival in Lexington could be a winning idea, and the first BBQ festival was launched on October 26, 1984. Now THE 37TH ANNUAL BARBECUE FESTIVAL is the largest event in this city famous for BBQ. Growing year by year, the festival can attract 200,000 BBQ fanatics.

    The famous festival will be on Saturday, Oct. 24, from 8:30 to 6:00 PM on Main Street. The attractions and activities are too numerous to mention here, but there is just about anything you can imagine going on at this huge gathering! But you don’t want to miss the dancing pigs!

    Check out the 37th annual Lexington barbecue festival brochure and get ready to “pig out!” BTW, the admission is FREE.

    While Lexington claims to be the Barbecue Capital of the World, Kansas City, Missouri, claims to have the largest barbecue contest in the world!

  3. World Series of Barbecue – Kansas City, MO
  4. As Kansas City is the largest city in Missouri, it makes an ideal location. This is a worldwide BBQ contest with competitors from over ten countries competing for the Open and Invitational Grand Champion title.

    The contest also includes public events and activities with live music, BBQ, local food, and many kids’ activities. The American Royal World Series of Barbecue® is a longstanding tradition in Kansas City, with the first BBQ contest held in 1980. In 1998, it officially became “The World’s Largest Barbecue,” with 340 teams competing.

    The American Royal is a non-profit organization founded in Kansas City in 1899. It started as a competition for livestock shows, rodeos, and horse shows to raise funds to support agriculture education programs. Today, The World Series of Barbecue® is the largest fundraiser for the American Royal.

    The BBQ contest challenges pitmasters on their BBQ skills in these categories:

    • Brisket
    • Pork
    • Pork Ribs
    • Chicken
    • Sausage
    • Turkey

    Contests are also held for:


    Side Dish Overall

    • Potato
    • Baked Beans
    • Best Sauce on The Planet Contest!
    • Rub Contest

    Location:  Kansas Speedway
    Address:  400 Speedway Blvd, Kansas City, KS 66111
    Website:  http://www.americanroyal.com/bbq/

    Due to COVID-19 restrictions, The American Royal has canceled the World Series of Barbecue scheduled for September 17-20, 2020. It has been determined that holding the Barbecue in 2020 is not feasible. The event is tentatively scheduled for September 16-19, 2021.

    Lexington is the Barbecue Capital of the World, and Kansas City, Missouri, has the largest barbecue contest in the world. You’ve heard everything is bigger in Texas; what about the Lone Star State barbecue festivals?

  • Texas Monthly BBQ Fest – Austin, TX
  • A magazine called the Texas Monthly sponsors an annual BBQ fest in Austin featuring the “Top 50 BBQ Joints in Texas.” Who better to kick off the event than Aaron Franklin of Franklin Barbecue in Austin, Texas?

    Franklin, a renowned pitmaster known for his Central Texas-style melt-in-your-mouth brisket, had a big influence on Caldwell County BBQ’s establishment. When Clay Caldwell sampled Franklin’s Texas brisket, he had to bring the Central Texas BBQ experience to Arizona!

    BBQ fest visitors can gather on the Long Center’s lawn for the Performing Arts while feasting on smoked meats made by many renowned pitmasters. Everything from beef brisket to pulled pork and sausage and all the sides will be available. Of course, no Texas BBQ event would be complete without cold beer to wash it all down!

    The event also includes local and touring artists and the Texas Monthly General store to explore. With many games to keep you and the family entertained throughout the weekend, this BBQ fest is a must go for any BBQ lover and their families.

    Lexington is called the Barbecue Capital of the World, and Kansas City, Missouri, has the largest barbecue contest in the world. And Texas has its BBQ Fest in Austin, but what about barbecue festivals in Arizona? We love BBQ just as much as all those iconic BBQ states!

    For Arizona, we have –

  • And what can be more American than BBQ and beer! So, a great name and great event it will be. Held in Chandler, Arizona, the festival has a new partnership with 102.5 KNIX, a commercial radio station in Phoenix that features country music. For that, you can expect to hear some Chart-Topping Country Music Stars like Lee Brice and Craig Morgan, who will headline the KNIX BBQ & Beer Festival.

    The festival also includes a family-friendly expanded VIP zone, a petting zoo, a carnival, and other interactive experiences. And of course, delicious BBQ and beer!

    If you are a big eater, join the Bratwurst eating, Pie eating, Chicken wing eating, and Rib eating competitions.

    For more information about the Great American Barbeque and Beer Festival, visit https://chandlerbbq.com/.

    To chow down on some great BBQ – come on over to Caldwell County BBQ! We have everything to help you get your Central Texas BBQ fix with our low and slow-cooked brisket, pork, and ribs with all the fixings. And of course, beer!