The Second Annual Music City BBQ Festival will be held Aug. 26-28 at Riverfront Park. Over 400 volunteers will organize the event for the expected 25,000-plus porkophilic attendees. Thursday night is mainly set-up time for the more than 100 teams who will participate in this competition, sanctioned by Kansas City Barbeque Society and Memphis Barbecue Network. And these people know how to party. Since much of the cooking takes place overnight, if you're on a cook team or lucky enough to be one of their guests, prepare to enjoy cooking rigs equipped with full bars, pumping sound systems and even dance floors.
Friday and Saturday are judgment days as teams deliver their chicken, ribs, shoulders and briskets to certified judges as they compete in individual categories and for the Grand Championship. This year there will be a Peoples' Choice Award, to which you can contribute. On Saturday from 10:30 a.m. until 1 p.m., festival attendees are invited to sample the same entrées and entries as the judges. People's Choice is a competition by all teams entered in the Music City BBQ Festival in which the general public are the judges. Each team is given a pork butt to cook and turn in on Saturday morning. The young Shriners will then process the meat and have it ready to serve to the public. Judging will take place from 10:30 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. and the winner will be announced at the awards ceremony Saturday evening. $5 gets you five soupçons, and you may buy as many tastings as you'd like. Best of all, the proceeds go to the Shriners Hospitals for Children, the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt and the American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge and Camp Horizon.
If you're more interested in just getting your eat and drink on rather than worrying about analyzing the nuances of hickory vs. mesquite, you might be a good candidate for the “SMOKIN HOT” Arena. For one price you'll have access to an all-inclusive venue located smack dab middle of the festival, overlooking Riverfront Park and the Grand Ole Porker Stage. Beer is provided and barbecue will be served throughout day by Paradise Ridge, a local KBCS Grand Champion.
Access to the stage might be a good thing this year, as the event organizers have really stepped up the music part of the festival. Friday night entertainment will be Mitch Ballard & The Western Swing Machine, TJ Hitt, The Jompson Brothers and headliner Jonell Mosser. Saturday offers The Dick50 Band, Lee Roy Parnell and Delbert McClinton. If those last three don't turn the sweetly smoky Riverfront stage into the baddest roadhouse in the country, I'd be shocked.
There will also be food seminars presented by Viking and Greenlight Market+Deli throughout the weekend. Check out the entire schedule here.