Practice Grilling, Smoking and Eating at the 2023 Nisqually Valley BBQ Rally


Springtime smells like lilacs while autumn is rain and pumpkin spice. Some people prefer winter’s sharp pine or the aroma of a crackling fireplace on a snowy day. But summer has the best smell of all: barbecue. On Saturday, July 22, head over to Yelm City Park for the 2023 Nisqually Valley BBQ Rally and enjoy a treat for all your senses…and your stomach. Better yet, sign up to compete for a chance to win prizes, acclaim and the adoration of hungry fans from across western Washington.

Nisqually Valley Barbecue Rally pop up tent with lots of signage and a few people milling about
Saturday, July 22 is the annual Nisqually Valley BBQ Rally, a free, family-friendly celebration of food and community. Photo courtesy: Yelm Chamber of Commerce

Fill Your Plate and Your Belly at the Nisqually Valley BBQ Rally

The Nisqually Valley BBQ Rally, which began in 2019, is hosted by the Yelm Chamber of Commerce. It’s free and open to the public. The event runs from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. and there’s plenty of parking at the site. Amanda Munoz, Yelm Chamber of Commerce executive director, says they typically see close to 10,000 people in attendance so plan for crowds and wear plenty of sunscreen.

This festive atmosphere has something for everyone, says Munoz. “We anticipate around 15 food choices including several different barbecue vendors, a coffee vendor, and some dessert vendors as well,” she adds. “There will be plenty of food and we have live bands scheduled to play throughout the day. We have the Amateur Andy and Amateur Andies competition as well as a Youth Burger Competition, which is new to the BBQ Rally this year. We’ll have several activities for kids including fun games, face painting and a bouncy house. Several businesses will be there if you feel like shopping as well.”

Care to Compete at the BBQ Rally? Sign up Today!

“New this year is the Youth Burger Challenge,” says Munoz. “This is for kids ages 10 to 17 and will have three winners. The first-place winner takes home $300 and second and third place also receive cash prizes.” The entry fee is $25, sign up on the Nisqually Valley BBQ Rally website.

close up of gold trophies with cows, stars and chickens on top
Come compete as an Amateur Andy or Amateur Andie and bring the kids who, for the first time, can also join in the fun competing in the Youth Burger Challenge. Photo courtesy: Yelm Chamber of Commerce

Adults can sign up for the Amateur Andy and Amateur Andie competition. Teams of up to four people choose to present beef brisket, pork ribs, chicken or pork shoulder. Sign up for one category or all four. It’s $40 to compete and rules and application forms are also online.

For those with a sweet tooth, don’t forget to save room for pie. Or go all-in and sign up for the annual pie eating contest.

Then round off your meal with a trip to the 21+ beer garden and enjoy a cool craft draft or cider on a warm summer day.

Volunteers, Businesses and Restaurant Vendors are Welcome At Yelm Barbecue Event

Competitors can’t feed the hungry masses but if you’re a local restaurant, food truck or pitmaster, sign up as a pro food vendor today. Non-chefs are welcome to sell themed merchandise and household goodies as a business vendor too. The festival welcomes volunteers to help with keeping events flowing smoothly. Email or call 360.458.6608 to join the fun.

Large-scale events are a labor of both love and dedicated community partnerships. Munoz offers a special shout-out to the sponsors, who make the event so amazing. “A big thank you to our Pit Master Sponsor Northwest Chevrolet, our Marketing Sponsors D Zines: Creative Solutions & Graphic Designs and 96.9 KAYO FM, our Small Stage Sponsor America’s Credit Union, and our Beer Garden Sponsors 507 Taproom and Filling Station and Uptown Lounge.” Find out more about available sponsorship levels and let mascot Smokey the Rooster help give your business a tail-shakin’ barbecue bump.

large crowd of people milling around pop up tents
Sign up to be a vendor, sponsor, volunteer, or competitor today and don’t miss out on a perfect summer’s afternoon around the grill. Photo courtesy: Yelm Chamber of Commerce

Attend the Nisqually Valley BBQ Rally

Cooking over an open fire is as old as, well, cooking. It’s said that founding father George Washington mentioned attending a barbecue in 1672. Approximately 14 million grills and smokers were sold between April 2020 and February 2021 alone to keep us sane during COVID-19. Now that pandemic precautions have eased, it’s grilling season once again.

Follow the Nisqually Valley BBQ Rally on Facebook and share the event with friends, family, neighbors and hungry coworkers. Everyone loves barbecue and despite its timeless appeal, there are plenty of 21st century trends. Who knows? You might even update your own skills to become the uncontested king of the grill. Burgers, chicken, corn on the cob, oysters, steak, or portobello mushroom caps, nothing smells like summertime more than barbecue.


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