The BBQ Festival, held this year on May 11 & 12, is an Owensboro tradition that spans four decades. For generations families have attended the downtown event, rain or shine, as a kickoff to summer. Rides, games and most importantly, BBQ, are sure to make an exciting, memory-making family outing!
Owensboro Parent spoke with Sharon NeSmith and Allen Payne, 2018 BBQ Festival Co-Chairs, about what Owensboro families can expect at the 40th Annual International BBQ Festival. Here are some of the highlights:
This carnival, owned and operated by locals JD and Debbie Green, is a returning event for the BBQ Festival. The carnival must operate in a very limited space to comply with space restrictions; however, each year they bring various rides for children and teens (and adults too.) You will see this carnival at schools, churches and other events in our area throughout the year. The Festival Carnival will operate on Friday, May 11 from 5 – 11 p.m. and on Saturday, May 12 from 10 a.m. – 11 p.m. Rides are located beginning at the blue bridge on 2nd Street through Clay Street.
Pie Eating Contest
The pie eating contest will be held at 12 noon on Saturday, May 12. The contest is open to anyone 12 years old and younger. The event will be held at the Overlook Stage and special guest Ron Rhodes will be our Master of Ceremonies along with other team members for judging! Cash prizes are awarded. Arrive at 11:30 a.m. to register to participate.
Mutton Glutton Sandwich Eating Contest
Joey Chestnut, 2017 Mutton Sandwich Eating Champion, will return to defend his title in 2018. In 2017, Joey ate 55 sandwiches in 10 minutes. Additional challengers from the Major League Eating organization will be here to vie for the 2018 Champion title, along with a special contest from this event’s overall sponsor, Kentucky Legend. Ten professional contenders are expected with two additional challengers chosen from our area.
Foods, Vendors and Arts and Crafts
Visit our 35 plus Back Yard Cooks event on Saturday, May 12 for free samples of individuals vying for the 2018 individual grill master title. Try the BBQ Mutton and Pork Sandwiches along with Burgoo from each of the Governor’s Cup cooking teams and see if you can determine who will be the Grand Champion at the end of the day on Saturday. And don’t forget the funnel cakes, corn dogs, lemonade and ice cream plus all the other special foods available from the varied vendors on 2nd Street. There will be games and face painting and ribbons and bows for you to check out in our Arts and Crafts area too.
Sometimes you just need a place to relax and refresh. Visit the picnic pavilion for some rest and shade or a place to enjoy all those foods you are eating. A special thank you to First Baptist Church for providing this area for all.
The crowd will be moving and clapping with four different stage areas in the Festival with different genres of music throughout the streets. Domtar Paper Company is sponsoring a new stage at Veterans & Daviess Street headlining some great family bluegrass acts. There will be two stages in the Festival Plaza Entertainment Area, the Kentucky Legend Stage and the ATMOS Energy Stage, presenting Southern Rock, a little Soul, and Country. A DJ Tent will be out by the cooking teams to keep the music going as you watch the pit teams cook and enjoy samples from the Back Yard Cooks.
Watch the Governor’s Cup cooking teams as they stir burgoo and flip chickens. Watch out for that pitch fork as they spear mutton hams and pork shoulders to turn over on the pits. Visit the Back Yard Cooks and watch as they prepare their competition food to win the special title of Grand Champion of the Back Yard Cooks.
Visit all of the Festival areas, and find your favorite spots. Check our web site, bbqfest.com, for a schedule of all events. There is a reason our tag line says: Come for the Food, Stay for the Fun!
This content is sponsored by Ole South Bar-B-Q. Ole South, one of the best BBQ restaurants in Owensboro, will be at this year’s BBQ Festival. Located at 2nd and Allen Streets, across from Mellow Mushroom, Ole South will be the closest BBQ vendors to both the Casey’s Rides area and Smothers Park. They will offer chopped mutton and pulled pork sandwiches, burgoo, fries, chips and soda all at reasonable prices – a family of four can eat for less than $25! When your family gets hungry at the BBQ Fest, be sure and stop by Ole South for some delicious food!