Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest in Memphis TN
Photo Credit: Memphis CVB/Andrea Zucker

12 Must-Visit Tennessee Barbecue Festivals

Follow your nose to these Tennessee barbecue festivals for competitions and the best barbecue samples.

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2023 Barbecue Festivals and Competitions in Tennessee
2024 Barbecue Festivals and Competitions in Tennessee  

Tennessee knows barbecue. The state attracts top barbecue teams to compete at festivals across the state that happen throughout the year. Add these Tennessee barbecue festivals to your calendar to eat amazing barbecue, enjoy live music and community spirit. 

*Events reflect the 2023/2024 calendar years.


2023 Barbecue Festivals and Competitions in Tennessee

Tennessee River BBQ Battle & Music Fest - Saltillo

Photo Credit: @tnsmokeshow

Over $14,000 and the title of Grand Champion is up for grabs during the Kansas City Barbecue Society sanctioned 2023 TN River BBQ Battle Aug. 25-26, 2023 in Saltillo. Teams will compete in chicken, pork, pork ribs and brisket categories with an overall team win available as well. Get your fill of barbecue and other food options, enjoy live music all day. The festivities are part of the larger Saltillo River Day, a celebration of the town’s river heritage that includes a parade, street dance, arts and crafts and more family-friendly activities.

BBQ, Tunes, & Brews on the Mount - Piney Flats

Be apart of history as Rocky Mount Museum hosts its first BBQ, Brews & Tunes Aug. 26, 2023. Mouthwatering barbecue, craft beer, spirits and toe-tapping music fills the Saturday afternoon from 2-9 p.m. Enjoy the fun atmosphere, learn more about the historic site and tour the buildings that help tell the story of the site that was the capital of the Southwest Territory in the late 1700s. 

Chester County BBQ Festival - Henderson

Photo Credit: Journal Communications Inc./Jeff Adkins

The Chester County BBQ Festival occurs each year on the last Friday and Saturday of September. This year’s festival takes place Sept. 22-23, 2023 around the Chester County Courthouse lawn in downtown Henderson. Mark your calendar to attend for lots of barbecue, live entertainment including hog calling contests, music, pig trot 5K, tractor show, children’s activities, live entertainment, Porky’s Pedal Tractor Pull, mutt strut pet parade and corn hole tournament.

Bartlett Festival, BBQ Contest & Car Show – Bartlett

Bring the family to experience the Bartlett Festival, BBQ Contest & Car Show Sept. 29-30, 2023 at W.J. Freeman Park in Bartlett. The Memphis BBQ Network Patio sanctioned barbecue cooking contest welcomes teams to compete in categories like chicken, pulled pork, ribs beef, fish/seafood, dessert, barbecue side and barbecue sauce. Live music, family-friendly games, arts & crafts and a car show are also planned.

Jack Daniel World Championship Invitational Barbecue - Lynchburg

The small town of Lynchburg becomes the largest site for barbecue Oct. 13-14, 2023. Barbecue competitors from around the nation converge for The Jack to show off their grilling and smoking skills at one of the most prestigious competitions in the barbecue world. More than 40,000 people travel to witness the competition in Wiseman Park and to enjoy barbecue vendors, buck dancing, butt bowling, the Country Dog Show and more. Admission is free and all ages are welcome.

Pig Fest - Hendersonville

The 4th annual Hendersonville Pig Fest takes place Oct. 27-28, 2023 at Veteran’s Park in Hendersonville. This year’s event includes a backyard barbecue competition, Friday Night concert, food trucks, live music, kids zone, pig races and Parking Palette painting. The barbecue competition sees teams compete for cash awards in categories like pork, ribs, shrimp, chicken, desserts and more. A People’s Choice Award and Pig Master Grand Champion title are on the line.

2024 Barbecue Festivals and Competitions in Tennessee

Bloomin’ BBQ Music & Food Festival – Sevierville

The Bloomin’ BBQ Music & Food Festival occurs May 17-18, 2024 in Sevierville. Some of the nation’s best barbecue, live music and family fun can be enjoyed at one of the Southeast’s top festivals. Some of the brightest bluegrass and Americana stars are part of the live music lineup that happens across three festival stages throughout the two-day event. Keep a lookout for the 2024 entertainment lineup announcement.

World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest - Memphis

Photo Credit: Memphis Travel/Mike Kerr

The World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest takes place each May as part of the larger Memphis in May celebration on the Memphis riverfront downtown in Tom Lee Park. The contest is heralded as the “Most Prestigious Barbecue Contest” The four-day competition has teams compete for more than $145,000 in prize money. Championship pork categories include ribs, shoulder and whole hog as well as ancillary competitions of hot wings, sauce and “Anything But Pork.” Activities include sauce wrestling, live music after award presentation each day, Ms. Piggie Idol, BBQ Alley and so much more.

Covington Bar-B-Que Festival - Covington

The KCBS sanctioned Covington Bar-B-Que Festival have teams compete in various categories for prizes and bragging rights each June. Attendees can also check out a demolition derby, truck and tractor pulls, enjoy food trucks and watch the pickleball tournament.

Boro BBQ Festival - Murfreesboro

Each May, Oaklands Mansion in Murfreesboro hosts some of the top ‘cuers in Middle Tennessee during Boro BBQ Festival as they compete in the KCBS Competitive Series-sanctioned  Dr. George Smith BBQ Brawl. Enjoy eating some of the finest barbecue while browsing 100 vendors, artists and craftspeople, live music, petting zoo and inflatables in the Family Zone, and participate in the People’s Choice competition.

Smoke on the Shores – Lebanon

Photo Credit: @fordsbbq

Smoke on the Shores, a KCBS sanctioned competition, welcomes more than 60 teams to participate in the profession barbecue competition and more than 40 teams compete in the backyard barbecue competition annually every March at the Wilson County Fairgrounds in Lebanon. Prize money totals over $10,000. Additional challenges include the Allegiance Rib Challenge, Dessert Challenge and Turkey Smoke Challenge. 

Chattanooga Sip ‘N Que Festival - Chattanooga

The Chattanooga Sip ‘N Que Festival celebrates all things barbecue and libations. A barbecue and sides competition, beer, wine and whiskey samples, food trucks, live music and more. Choose your experience with a variety of ticket options including a general admission only, food sampler ticket, beverage sampler ticket, beverage and food sampler ticket and the VIP “I Want It All” ticket that includes early admission, food sampler ticket and a beverage sampler ticket. Keep a lookout for 2024 dates and event information on the festival’s website.

Discover more Tennessee culinary festivals by browsing our event calendar.

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