Monday, June 10, 2013

Blue Ridge Barbecue Festival marks 20 years

If you want to see the smoke in the Smokies, consider a run to Tryon this Saturday for the Blue Ridge Barbecue Festival -- the state's official N.C. barbecue championship, as declared by Gov. Pat McCrory.

This is the 20th anniversary, and it includes a visit from Destination America's show "BBQ Pitmasters," which will be filming an upcoming segment of the show. There's also music, including Donna the Buffalo, TownMountain and Big Daddy Love, a craft show and carnival rides.

Which brings us to the barbecue contest, the center of the whole thing. This is a KCBS-sanctioned event, and teams and judges come from all over. I'm returning as a judge this year, so I'll be in the sequestered tent. If you've never been to a barbecue competition, you can watch the cooking at all of the tents, but you can only buy barbecue from designated vendors. There's also a barbecue shopping area where you can buy books, rubs and sauces.

This year, the contest is part of the Western N.C. Points Chase: Teams enter three contests, the Blue Ridge, the Maggie Valley Barbecue Festival July 26-27 and the Franklin Mountain High BBQ Aug. 9-10. The team with the highest accumulated score from all three gets an additional prize of $1,000.

Friday is free from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, adult tickets are $8 and children under 12 get in free. For details, directions, a full schedule and hours, go to or call 828-859-RIBS.