South Sound BBQ Festival – Back Again And Better Than Ever

south sound bbq festival
The South Sound BBQ Festival is scheduled for Saturday, July 6 at Huntamer Park, a new location this year.


By Tom Rohrer

lucky eagleIt is unlikely you will find a better pair than summer and barbecue.

In celebration of this tasty duo, the Lacey Chamber of Commerce will present the third annual South Sound BBQ Festival on Saturday, July 6.

south sound bbq festival
The South Sound BBQ Festival is scheduled for Saturday, July 6 at Huntamer Park, a new location this year.

The event is free and will take place for the first time at Huntamer Park in Lacey after camping out for two years in the Cabella’s parking lot near Hawks Prairie.

With a full-fledged amateur BBQ Cook-off, around 10 professional barbecue vendors, family friendly entertainment, and yes, available barbecued meats, the South Sound Barbecue Festival is the perfect way to usher in the warm summer months.

“The best things is that summer (weather) starts in Lacey in early July. The South Sound BBQ Festival is always the Saturday after the Fourth of July, so we align well with summer,” said Stephanie Hemphill, the event coordinator for the Lacey Chamber of Commerce. “Also, we try to appeal to as many age groups as possible.  It’s really family friendly, really fun, and grandma along with the baby in the stroller can have a great time.  There is something for everyone to do.”

While there will be a wide variety of entertainment sources at the festival, it’s hard to not focus on the delicious food.

Amateur contestants, referred to as “Back Yard Joes”, can enter their premier recipe into any of five categories, which includes chicken, pork, beef, seafood and any other BBQ cuisine.  The area’s casinos will also be participating in a salmon cook-off.

olympia food shopping
Amateur cooks are invited to enter their favorite recipe into one of five categories at the South Sound BBQ Festival.

Spectators can taste these entries themselves, and vote to determine the winner, which will be announced in the latter stages of the festival.

A barbecue pit pass is available, and unlike last year, all purchases can be made with cash instead of tokens.

Hemphill believes the distinct Northwest style of barbecue differs from contest entries across the country.

“What I think is interesting is seeing people prepare dishes that aren’t traditional,” Hemphill said. “People barbecue a lot of seafood, which is a change from other contests. When it’s nice outside around this area, people jump at the chance to barbecue, so they get a lot of practice and try new things.  People don’t waste suitable weather, and everyone can relate to wanting to grill if it’s nice enough to.”

Back again is the now famed America’s Credit Union Wing Eating contest, which will have two age groups – Teens (ages 12 – 17) and Adults (18 and older).  A trophy and cash prize will be awarded to the winner, in each category, who eats the most wings in weight.  Registration for the 4 minute contest will be held on the day of the festival.  The first ten contestants in each category will be the lineup for the competition, which begins at 1 p.m. at the festival’s main stage.

Over the course of the festival, a slew of other entertainment sources will take their stand on the main stage.  Members of the Sea Gals along with the Seattle Seahawks mascot “Blitz” will be at the festival throughout the day, and the Seahawks official fan band “Blue Thunder” will take their drum-line to the stage in between the wing eating contests.

Joining the Seahawks crews as performers will be bands “Blues Redemption” and the Nick Bradley Band.

The entertainment does not stop at the stage, as evidenced by the 37 businesses participating in the festivals business showcase, and the presence of all three Thurston County radio stations.  Classic cars will also be on display throughout the event.

south sound bbq festival
Winers of the wing eating contest will win a trophy and cash prize. Register at the event.

Two bounce houses will entertain the kids, along with a giant maze and carnival style hard slides for participants to travel down in burlap sack bags.

Clearly, it is an event for everyone.

“It’s an all-day event,” Hemphill said. “We want people to mingle, get together with friends, meet new people – the possibilities are endless.”

While the parking lot at Cabela’s (who is still a sponsor of the event) was a terrific location for the festival, Hemphill is excited to be moving to a park where barbecue is meant to be produced.

“We’re really excited about the location,” Hemphill said. “We’ve expanded to a whole new set of patrons, and we also love the aspect that it combines a park and barbecue.  I think that’s the perfect for a setting for the festival.  You can bring a picnic blanket, chairs, the whole family.  What more could you want?”

South Sound BBQ Festival

Saturday, July 6 from 11:00 am – 6:00 pm

Huntamer Park at Woodland Square Loop in Lacey


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