Summer is defined by food. From sizzling grills to chilled watermelon and after-dinner popsicles, we’re drawn to the tastes of the season. But long days and balmy nights mean food is more than just fuel. Its time spent with family, friends and neighbors in the great, green outdoors we call home.

National Geographic’s Joy of Food summed it up best: “Food is more than survival. With it we make friends, court lovers and count our blessings. The sharing of food has always been part of the human story.”

south sound BBQ Festival
When not wandering the booths and tables, enjoy live music, cooking demonstrations, a kids’ zone, and chicken-wing eating contest. Photo credit: South Sound BBQ Festival

Food has also become an art form, hobby and even entertainment. Chances are you—or someone you know—follow celebrity chefs, famous restaurants or food blogs on social media. No matter which side of the kitchen you find yourself, vendors at the South Sound BBQ Festival have you covered.

Running from 11:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, July 8, the Festival is a wealth of sights, sounds, and smells. Come early to shop, stay late for the Beer Garden (open until 8:00 p.m. thanks in part to Budd Bay Promotions and Apparel’s new portable bar!) and enjoy a full day of fun.

The event is free and family- and pet-friendly, there is live music starting at noon, a kids’ zone, professional cook-off and more. Hungry? Sign up for the chicken-wing eating contest and put that appetite to good use.

But bring shopping bags and your Christmas list because there will be vendors galore from businesses across the region. Collin Silvernail from the Lacey South Sound Chamber estimates more than 50 groups have signed up so far with new names arriving daily.

south sound bbq festival
With more than 15,000 annual attendees, the South Sound BBQ Festival is a tasty treat for the eyes and stomach. Photo credit: South Sound BBQ Festival

For destinations visit booths by the Hands On Children’s Museum, Got Your 6 Fishing, or City of Lacey. Need work done around the house? Coastal Aire Concepts, Champion Windows, Elite Cleaning of Washington, and Dinners Done Right can help you out.

Skip window shopping for the real thing with LuLaRoe shops, Mary Kay, Kluh Jewelers, Cabela’s, and Bibbity Bobbity Balloons. For service needs, representatives will be on hand from multiple banks, credit unions, dental offices and community resources. You’ll even have the chance to chat with local elected officials and representatives from the American Legion, National Guard, Intercity Transit, and more.

But with both amateur and professional pit-masters working their smoky, saucy magic on all sides, it’s the food stations that draw the biggest crowds. To date, Chamber President Martin McElliott expects nearly a dozen spots to get your fill.

Your culinary journey can include trips to stands and food trucks run by the Tailgate BBQ, Nisqually Red Wind and the Lucky Eagle Casinos, Ferris Fun Food, Veritas Coffee, Ricardo’s, Ben and Jerry’s, Corn Dogs of the World, Forrey’s Forza and the South Bay Pub and Eatery.

south sound BBQ fest
Nearly 75 vendors of local foods, services, destinations, and more will be on site to answer questions and offer prizes galore. Photo credit: South Sound BBQ Festival

With so many professional chefs on site, budding foodies can watch, shop, and ask questions. Who knows, maybe next year a Backyard Joe will take home first prize at the annual Pacific Northwest Barbeque Association Cook-Off.

In previous years, attendance at the Festival has topped 15,000 people so come early and come hungry. The wrap-up of a full year’s festivities for the City of Lacey’s 50th Anniversary, the BBQ Festival is a fan-favorite event to kick off summer.

Renowned chef Julia Child once said “Life itself is the proper binge.” Let your senses (and stomach!) overflow with a true summer’s bounty of sights, sounds, smells…and a little extra sauce on the side.

The South Sound BBQ Festival takes place at Lacey’s Huntamer Park, located at 618 Woodland Square Loop SE. Contact Festival organizers online or through the Chamber office at 360-491-4141.

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