6 Things to Know About The World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest

Posted by Holly Whitfield | May 17th 2017 4266 0

The largest barbecue event in the world starts today at Tom Lee Park in downtown Memphis, Tennessee. Here are the six quick points I’d like to make about WCBCC 2017, followed by the schedule.


1. Win tickets! I’m giving away two pairs of tickets to get in. Tweet me a pic from BBQ fest or of Memphis BBQ in order to enter. I’ll pick a winner tomorrow morning.  It’s $10 per person, and $20 is not nothing.

2. In case you missed it….this is not a free-for-all eatin’ ribs situation. Think of this as ton of private parties/team cook-offs all gathered together on the river…not a festival where anyone can buy food from the teams. In fact, they aren’t allowed to sell it at all. If you go there without a team invite, expect to see some fun entertainment and get grub from your usual fair-food vendors (pronto pups, etc.) but not all their barbecue.

3. Get an invite. To get around this, you may be able to gain entry to a friend’s team. Some thoughts on this:
– A friend who is on a team might invite you to stop by during a convenient time, sometimes you can ask/beg them.
– Don’t try to bring a big pack of friends with you if you get an invite. This is just not cool.
– Mind your manners.
– Bring some cash for tip jars think $10 or a $20, especially if drinks are free. If I’m staying in a friend’s tent eating and drink all night for free, I will add more.

In the “anything but” category.

4. BBQ Alley. Another way to get around this is to buy tickets to the BBQ Alley, which is new this year. These $15 tickets are in addition to your admission ticket. This is new this year. Read all the fine print and get limited number of tickets here.

5. Common sense. If you’re heading down there, it sure won’t hurt you to keep in mind some of my favorites from the ABCs of Memphis in May.

– drink water, please
– wear sunscreen
– don’t drink and drive, there is literally no reason on earth to do this when there are lyfts and ubers and cabs
– wearing real, closed-toe shoes is best; no heels and flip flips are darn iffy
– charge your phone
– don’t skip Ms. Piggy Idol; it’s hilarious

The Too Sauced To Pork team puts out a very in-depth unofficial guide every year that you might be interested in. John over at Carbunkle Trumpet has an even more unofficial, entertaining “guide” as well.

6. Check the schedule.

Barbecue Fest/World Championships Barbecue Cooking Contest Schedule 2017

Wednesday May 17
Park hours: 5 p.m. – 11 p.m.
Big Hog Run at 4 p.m.
Sauce Wrestling 6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.

Thursday May 18
Park hours: 11 a.m. – midnight
Free admission gate 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Ms. Piggie Idol Contest at 6 p.m.
Ms. Piggie Idol Finals + Winners at 8 p.m.
Brandy Clark on stage at 8:30 p.m.

Friday May 19
Park hours: 11 a.m. – midnight
Free admission gate 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Awards Ceremony for Anything But, Hot Wings, and Sauce categories at 6:30 p.m.
Coolio on stage at 8 p.m.

Saturday May 20
Park hours: 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Awards Ceremony at 6:30 p.m.
Clarence Carter on stage at 8 p.m.

To say the teams are excited is an enormous understatement. They’ve been out there setting up for five days already, getting ready for parties and setting up to cook recipes they’ve been perfecting all year…or maybe for decades.

In additional to elaborate multi-level “tents”, tantalizing smells, hilarious entertainment, and honestly, some of the wildest partying I’ve ever seen, this is a damn serious cooking competition with world-class winners and judges.

Good luck everybody! PLEASE tag me in your photos online or use hashtag #ilovememphis.


Author: Holly Whitfield

I write about what’s going on with Memphis music, food, arts, events, sports, people, and culture. Memphians love Elvis and barbeque with a passion that must be seen to be believed, but there is so much more to this place.

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