6 Things to Know About The World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest

6 Things to Know About The World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest

The largest barbecue event in the world is back!

The World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest is happening May 11-14, 2022 at the Liberty Park Fairgrounds. 

I’m so excited that WCBCC is back almost to normal. I know the competition teams are eager to fight for eternal smoked pork glory and celebrate all that they’ve accomplished.

Tent at WCBCC
Alex Shansky

1. World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest: Dates and Ticket Info

World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest (WCBCC) is four days of competition barbecue and entertainment. Gates open at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, May 11, at 11 a.m. on Thursday and Friday, and at 10 a.m. on Saturday. 

Also Check out the ABCs of Memphis In May for more tips for this monthlong celebration of food, music, and fun in Memphis. 

World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest Tickets

Tickets are $13* for a single day or $48 for a four-day pass. Buy tickets ahead of time online here or at the gate. *plus fees

There are add-on extras including BBQ Alley and Kingsford Tour of Champions  (latter is sold out) that are available once you select your admission ticket and tap “Add to Cart”. See screenshot below. BBQ Alley tickets will be available for purchase once you get inside the event, while supplies last. 

bbq alley tickets screenshot

World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest Location 2022

Due to construction in Tom Lee Park, Memphis In May’s WCBCC will be held in midtown at Liberty Park / Tiger Lane / Liberty Bowl / Fairgrounds / whatever you’re calling it. They did have it here once before in 2011 during the flood, and a lot of people said they loved it! It will be back on the River in 2023, though. 

WCBCC Tent Views
Alex Shansky
bbq fest party tent
Raphael Tenschert

2. The Meat Is For The Competition

In case you missed it….this is not a free-for-all eatin' ribs situation. Think of the WCBCC as a big group of private parties all next to one another. It's 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 the competition happening and to get grub from your usual fair-food vendors (Pronto Pups, etc.) but not the competition barbecue.

Do not despair, though— there are a few options to get to try some good BBQ! See #3 and #4.

    meat on the smoker
    Raphael Tenschert

    3. How to Eat BBQ At Memphis In May: Get An Invite

    Another way to eat food and BBQ is to ain 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 and figure out which days or nights are best.
    • The team may or may not be serving BBQ on the night they are accepting guests. Some teams have other meals throughout the week. Ask your friend what's on the menu for the night they're accepting guests into the tent.
    • Don’t try to bring a big pack of friends with you if you get an invite. This is just not cool. Most teams have limited numbers of wristbands.
    • Mind your manners. 
    • Bring cash for tip jars think – $25 at least, especially if drinks are free and you’re drinking them. If I’m staying in a friend’s tent eating and drink all night for free, I would add much more. Competition tents aren’t cheap.
    BBQ Alley, the public eating lounge option, at WCBCC
    Alex Shansky

    4. BBQ Alley

    BBQ Alley is here to save you from hunger with BBQ food vendors and cooking from the Big Green Egg. It’s $20+fees on top of your general admission ticket available for pre-purchase online (it only appears when you put the GA tickets in your cart and go to checkout, see screenshot above) and limited quantities available onsite.

    BBQ Alley sessions: 

    • Thursday 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.
    • Friday 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.
    • Saturday 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m.

    Kingsford Tour of Champions - sold out

    Tour three barbecue team tents and sample barbecue from competition teams with the Tour of Champions. Each tour is an hour and a half, and tickets available for pre-purchase online (it only appears when you put the GA tickets in your cart and go to checkout). 

    Kingsford Tour of Champions schedule: 

    • Thursday 2 p.m, 3 p.m., 4 p.m.
    • Friday 2 p.m., 3 p.m., 4 p.m.
    bbq fest wcbcc tent
    Alex Shansky

    5. Common Sense, More Tips, and It’s Going To Be Very Hot This Year

    This year the forecast is in the 90s for World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, and we're working without a river breeze this year so prepare for the heat, please! Here are a bunch of other tips and need-to-knows.

    • drink water! please! taking a shot down the rapidly melting ice luge does not count
    • there will be cooling stations in the park near the North Entrance
    • wear sunscreen! you think you don't need it but you do
    • don’t drink and drive, there are lyfts and ubers and cabs, and surge pricing is nothing compared to the cost of a DUI or, you know, someone’s life
    • wearing real, closed-toe shoes or sturdy sandals (is that a thing?) is best; people will make fun of you if you wear heels or flip flops
    • All About Bikes will have a bike valet stand like they did during music fest. 
    • Look for the selfie stations, including the Memphis sign and the "Throne of Bones" Tag me @ilovememphisblog in your pics!
    • charge your phone!!
    • The Too Sauced To Pork team puts out a very in-depth unofficial guide every year that you might be interested in. 

    6. Check the schedule.

    The schedule is here. 

    Don’t skip Ms. Piggy Idol; it’s hilarious and it’s at 6 p.m. on Thursday.

    Grizzlies Elvis Hog serves as tent decor at WCBCC
    Alex Shansky

    To say the teams are excited is an enormous understatement. They’ve been planning their tent setup for months and getting ready 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 and use hashtag #ilovememphis.

    Comments Make Us Happy

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    Karen
    Thank you for the info! If we only had one day to go to the contest, which day would you recommend? We will actually be getting into Memphis on Wednesday afternoon and flying home on Sunday, so we can go any day or multiple days. Any advice and info would be appreciated.
    February 6, 2020 10:10pm
    Holly Whitfield
    Hi Karen! Quick answer: Thursday is usually the biggest party, but Friday is lively as well. Saturday is mostly serious judging and not a lot going on for the general public. Longer answer - Do you have a team connection that will allow you into a tent or tents? If so, check with them to see when they are opening their tent to the public (and if they are feeding friends). If you do not have an invitation to a private cooking team, look into BBQ Alley and look at the entertainment schedule (live music, Miss Piggy Idol) and choose that way! If you don't have a team, then one day is probably enough. Hope this helps!
    February 7, 2020 12:47pm