Nothing wakes up all five senses like warm breezes scented with BBQ smoke. In the Northwest, our mild climate means grilling can be a way of life 365 days a year. Whether you prefer saucy classics like ribs and chicken, charred seasonal vegetables from the Farmer’s Market, or local specialties like oysters and salmon, everything is better when grilled.
Forbes magazine reports that “75% of U.S. adults own a grill or smoker [and] the majority of grill owners (63%) use their grill or smoker year-round and 43% cook at least once a month through winter.”
Saturday, July 8 is the seventh annual South Sound BBQ Festival in Lacey’s Huntamer Park, kicking off six months of festivities for the City of Lacey’s 50th Anniversary. Martin McElliott, president of the Lacey South Sound Chamber, estimates that in previous years more than 15,000 people have attended this day-long celebration of community, grilling, smoke, and spice.
He loves the organization’s continued participation in the family-friendly event; “The Chamber continues to host this event year after year because it is becoming a staple in our community and a great way to bring our community together at no cost for the attendees.”
Running from 11:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m., the pet-friendly Saturday event and parking are both free. McElliott is excited that fan favorite activities are returning including the “beer garden, kids zone—this year bigger and better—professional BBQ vendors and music on stage.”
Whether you’re the family grill-master or looking for gifts for that special person, check out the many vendors set up throughout the park. Vendor space is still available to interested parties, find specifics and details on the event’s website or by emailing event coordinator Collin Silvernail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
After stocking up on tools, spices, cookbooks and more, head over to the main stage for live music and entertainment. Amongst others, look for the popular Olympia-based young adult Edgewater Trio, performing at noon.
Children can enjoy the Kids Zone with games, activities and an oversized bounce house. Individual vendors will also offer giveaways, prizes and more. Lacey Fire District 3 will bring along a fire truck for the kids explore and the Washington National Guard will bring an armored Humvee to check out.
Hungry after all that dancing and fun? Consider signing up for a chicken-wing eating contest with youth, teen and adult categories hosted by America’s Credit Union. Prefer to sit and relax instead? Enjoy watching officials and professional participants from the Pacific Northwest BBQ Association. These experts will be judging a professional cook-off where pit masters from all around the area will be competing for cash prizes as craft their very best BBQ versions of brisket, ribs and chicken.
A growing and popular trend, food trucks will line the streets around the park selling pulled-pork sliders, bratwurst, ice-cream and more. For the 21+ crowd, an on-site beer garden runs from noon until 8:00 p.m., well after the Festival wraps up.
McElliott and his team at the Chamber hope to see the event “grow, grow, grow! We want to see the streets lined with delicious food vendors, bigger bands performing on the stage and 25,000 people!”
Follow the Festival on Facebook for additions to the schedule of performers, vendors and sponsors. Direct questions about participation in this or future festivals can be directed to the Chamber office at 360-491-4141, explored on the Lacey South Sound Chamber website or emailed to event coordinator Collin Silvernail.
Forbes concluded that “the top three reasons for cooking outdoors, in order are: to improve flavor, for personal enjoyment, and for entertaining family and friends.” The South Sound BBQ Festival brings together the community to celebrate those very things and insure your backyard grilling is top notch and at the heart of your summer fun.