Barbecue is more than a summer staple; it’s a national pastime and uniquely American treat. And while classics like ribs, brisket, and chicken will always tantalize, these days you’ll find BBQ’d seafood, grilled fruit desserts, and even smoked chocolate.

For the past five years, the South Sound BBQ Festival has combined the tried-and-true with cutting edge Northwest cuisine. This year’s celebration of smoky, saucy goodness takes place on Saturday, July 9 from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. at Lacey’s Huntamer Park.

south sound bbq festival
Whether you’re a pro or Backyard Joe, pit masters are encouraged to come compete in the 5th annual South Sound BBQ Festival competition. Photo courtesy: South Sound BBQ Festival.

Sierra Burton, Executive Director of the Lacey South Sound Chamber who hosts the event, is excited for this year’s South Sound BBQ Festival. “We love that our event takes place at the peak of summer. The weather is beautiful and we get to bring our community together through food, music and many other activities. There are many events people want to attend but don’t ever get to because of cost. We’ve been able to make it so anyone can attend and enjoy all that our community has to offer!”

With previous attendance numbers topping 15,000, this year competitive chefs from across the region will be cooking up trophy-worthy beef brisket, chicken thighs, pork baby back ribs, seafood, and a delightfully open ‘other’ category.

Not a professional but think you could be? Both pros and Back Yard Joes can still sign up to show off their carefully honed skills on the grill in the above categories.

south sound bbq festival
This year’s competition includes Beef Brisket, Chicken Thighs, Pork Baby Back Ribs, Seafood, and the tantalizingly open ‘Other’ category. Photo courtesy: South Sound BBQ Festival.

Burton admits that returning fan favorite events are simple: the dunk tank, amateur cook-off, and food, food, food. New this year will be a mechanical bull sponsored by Country Financial, best ridden before dining or a trip to the Sports Garden.

Because BBQ is always better shared, this event thrives thanks to community sponsors, willing volunteers, and word of mouth from excited Facebook updates and invites. For the over 21 crowd, make sure to visit the second annual Coors Light Sports Garden with activities and entertainment until 8:00 p.m., well after the Festival itself has wrapped up.

Admission to the South Sound BBQ Festival is free and tastes from the professionals start at $2. There will be live music, an all-ages chicken wing eating contest, and raffles throughout the day. For a complete schedule of performers and activity times, check out their website.

south sound bbq festival
Have a recipe that you want to try out on a crowd? Join the South Sound BBQ Festival as a Back Yard Joe.

Questions can be submitted online or through Facebook as can requests to help or participate. You can also contact the Lacey South Sound Chamber office at 360-491-4141. While visiting, look for the annual recipe book to boost your backyard flame game or jot down the names of favorite local eateries for summertime follow-up.

Huntamer Park is centrally located behind the Lacey Fred Meyer with easy access to the Intercity Transit’s Lacey Transit Center. It offers lots of free parking and plenty of shade. Bring the whole family to enjoy all the best sights, sounds, and especially smells of summer.


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