While grey skies and spring rains may have summer days far from your thoughts, Lacey South Sound Chamber reminds us it is never too early to dive into the pleasant memories of warm weather, good friends, healthy competition and a generous helping of slow-cooked, mouth-watering barbecue. After two years of anxious waiting by all, the Lacey South Sound BBQ Festival returns to Huntamer Park on July 9 and they need you to mark your calendars, spread the word and to contribute to the magic by signing up to be a vendor.

A crowd of people at the Lacey South Sound BBQ Festival
Free Family Fun is what the Lacey South Sound BBQ Festival is all about. Photo credit: Blake Knoblauch

“Showcasing Huntamer Park while offering free family fun is what the Lacey South Sound BBQ Festival is all about,” explains Patrick Davidson. Patrick, who has served as entertainment chair since the event’s inception, assures us that the festival’s two stages will be back. The all-ages main stage will feature local performers and music that are sure to get your foot tapping and you may even find yourself singing along. Past performances have even included a martial arts demonstration and local dance troupes. For those 21 and over, the Beer Garden will be located in the Ricardo’s/Hub parking lot, featuring its own performance stage and a large selection of local beers and ciders. For younger attendees, the interactive Kidzone will return and include fan favorites such as face painting and a bouncy house.

The Lacey South Sound BBQ Festival is, at its heart, all about community. Dispersed around the festival will be numerous vendor booths featuring both delicious food and local businesses. Signing up to be a vendor at the South Sound Chamber BBQ Festival is always a win. You get to connect with community members, get the word out about your business, connect with other businesses and play a role in supporting a much-loved Lacey tradition. Food and business vendors can apply now on the Lacey South Sound BBQ Festival website.

People at a table eating chicken wings for an eating contest at the Lacey South Sound BBQ Festival
The America’s Credit Union chicken wing eating contest is an all-ages favorite event at the Lacey South Sound BBQ Festival. Photo credit: Blake Knoblauch

Speaking of food, what about that barbecue? In addition to numerous vendors, a professional cook-off and the America’s Credit Union chicken wing eating contest, the Lacey South Sound BBQ Festival is welcoming back the famous Backyard Joes amateur barbecue competition.

Chris Lester, former Backyard Joe contestant, long-time chamber member and owner/operator of The Tailgate BBQ, shares his journey from amateur to veteran vendor.

Like Patrick, Chris has been involved with the Lacey South Sound BBQ Festival since its early days in the Lacey Cabela’s parking lot. He saw the promotion for the Backyard Joes competition and thought, “Why not?”

“That first year, my oldest son and I set up our smoker in the parking lot and camped out all night, tending the fire. It was the most wonderful time,” gushes Chris. “I entered all the categories but it wasn’t about the competition, it was simply about being there, being a part of it all.”

A kid easting a corn dog at the Lacey South Sound BBQ Festival
If BBQ isn’t your thing, past festivals have included other vendors, such as Hawaiian Shaved Ice, Irishman Enterprises Corn Dogs of the World and summertime classics like french fries, elephant ears and kettle corn. Photo credit: Blake Knoblauch

Eventually, Chris graduated from Backyard Joes and became a vendor selling food.

As you walk from vendor to vendor popping delicious morsels in your mouth, you may not realize the effort that went into preparing each bite. The prep work, the overnight labors of genuine love and care, the team of workers needed the next morning to hand out that much food to that many people.

“It’s a marathon,” shares Chris. “I start preparing days before the event. Once Friday comes, it’s like taking care of a baby. I camp out by my smoker and tend to the fire every hour or two until morning when the community starts rolling in.”For Chris, the South Sound BBQ Festival is a pure adrenaline rush. It would have to be to keep you up all night, sleeping in lawn chairs, just to satisfy our taste buds.

It’s hard to think of a reason not to support the Lacey South Sound Chamber BBQ Festival when you think of all the heart, hard work and genuine care that is put into every portion of its program.

A long row of people sitting at a table outside drinking at the Lacey South Sound BBQ Festival
Lacey South Sound BBQ festival attendees who are 21 and over can enjoy local ciders and beers along with their own performance stage on the side of Huntamer Park nearest to Ricardos. Photo credit: Blake Knoblauch

In one warm July afternoon you’ll find connection, celebration, unforgettable food, beer, cider, family memories and businesses from across the community. Past events have hosted over 15,000 community members, and after so long apart, it wouldn’t be surprising to see even more this July 9.

“The Lacey South Sound BBQ Festival is one of the many threads that weaves this community together,” reflects Chris. “Moments like this, where people can connect with other people, matter.  It’s Americana.”

Questions about the festival or becoming a vendor at this year’s event? Visit the Lacey South Sound BBQ Festival website or contact Executive Director, Blake Knoblauch at 360.491.4141 or Blake@laceysschamber.com.


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