BBQ Showdown

Amateur pitmasters compete for best BBQ bragging rights at popular Labor Day fest

Amateur pitmasters compete for best backyard BBQ at Labor Day fest

Barbecue ribs at Killen's BBQ in Pearland
Can you make ribs like this? Then enter the amateur BBQ chef competition at the Bedford Blues & BBQ Festival. Photo by Kimberly Park

If you’ve always claimed to make barbecue as good as any top Texas pitmaster, now’s your chance to prove it. The Bedford Blues & BBQ Festival is soliciting entries for its first-ever amateur BBQ chef competition.

At stake is a $100 grand prize and bragging rights to the best backyard barbecue. The cost to enter is $50, but you also get 10 free wristbands to the festival for Friday, August 29.

Aspiring pitmasters can compete in two categories — chicken and ribs — following the Kansas City Barbeque Society guidelines, with a couple of exceptions:

  • Gas, charcoal or other cooking methods may be used. All cooking must be done onsite.
  • The only garnishes allowed are chopped, sliced, shredded or whole leaves of fresh green lettuce, parsley or cilantro. Don’t even think about kale, endive, red-tipped lettuce, lettuce core or other vegetation.

Contestants will cook on mass-market grills (no competition smokers are allowed), and the top three winners in each category will take home cash prizes ranging from $50-$75, as well as a trophy. Find more information, including an entry form, on the Bedford Blues & BBQ Festival website.

Veteran attendees of this annual festival may recall that it began as a music event only, spotlighting the blues. Then the organizers introduced a barbecue competition, and it went boom, says spokesman Bob Hill.

“The first year they added it, they said, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we got 20 teams?’ And they got 35,” Hill says. “The next year it was 50 teams, and last year they had 90 teams.

“The barbecue part has exploded. I believe it’s now the second- or third-largest event that is sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbeque Society, and the barbecue aspect has become an equal measure to the blues part of the event.”

The Bedford Blues & BBQ Festival runs through Sunday, August 31, with live music, arts and crafts vendors, and lots of food — barbecue and otherwise.