Things to Know About Both Barbecue Competitions: WCBCC & SmokeSlam

6 Things to Know About The World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest

It's safe to say that it will be the biggest barbecue week in the world between the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest and SmokeSlam: The World's Ultimate BBQ Showdown.

The World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest is happening May 15-18, 2024, at Liberty Park. SmokeSlam: The World's Ultimate BBQ Showdown will be at Tom Lee Park on May 16-18, 2024. Yes, two bbq fests and whether you're hitting one (or hey! go check out both) here are a few things to know before.

Tent at WCBCC
Alex Shansky

Dates and Ticket Info

World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest

World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest (WCBCC) is four days of competition barbecue and entertainment. Gates open at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, May 15, at 11 a.m. on Thursday, at noon on Friday, and at 10 a.m. on Saturday (Judging Day). 

General Admission tickets are $15* for a single day or $54* for a four-day pass. Buy tickets ahead of time online or at the gate.
*plus fees and taxes

There is also an option for a VIPit Pass which includes cooking demonstrations (and tastings too) to tours of competitor’s team spaces. You'll get a chance to meet and interaction with competition teams, participate in a judging class, visit Blind Judging in the Judges Tent, wine tasting, and meet some legendary names in barbecue like Myron Mixon, Tuffy Stone, Moe Cason, and Heath Riles. VIPit Passes are good for all four days and cost $549. More details on all ticket options can be found here.

SmokeSlam: The World's Ultimate BBQ Showdown

SmokeSlam is three days of competition barbecue and entertainment from May 16-18, 2024. Gates open at 2 p.m. all three days.

General Admission tickets are $25* for a single day and $65* for a three-day pass. There are also VIP passes available for $599* for all three days and $240* for a single day. VIP Passes get you access to a VIP lounge with, private air-conditioned restrooms, exclusive bar (to purchase from), water, wifi, dedicate entry lane, VIP area at BBQ demos, special bbq guests each day in the VIP lounge, and BBQ samples. More details on all ticket options can be found here.
*fees included, plus taxes

A quick note on parking. While ride-sharing is highly encouraged, the Downtown Mobility Center will offer a special $7 day rate on Saturday and Sundays. This is for the 6th and 7th levels. All the details you need to know are here.

WCBCC Tent Views
Alex Shansky
bbq fest party tent
Raphael Tenschert

2. How to Eat BBQ

In case you missed it….these are not a free-for-all eatin' ribs situation. Think of it 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. For WCBCC, if you go there without a team invite or purchasing an add-on experience or VIP ticket, expect to see the competition happening but not the competition barbecue. Both competitions will have on-site vendors that you can purchase food from.

World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest

Do not despair, though— there are a few options to get to try some good BBQ! There are add-ons you can purchase in addition to your general admission tickets, BBQ Alley and Kingsford Tour of Champions, that are available once you select your admission ticket and tap “Checkout Now." Both have limited amount of tickets available.

BBQ Alley is a tasting experience that grants you access to four well-known barbecue restaurants plus Big Green Egg serving up pork ribs, pulled pork, beef brisket, and poultry with sides. Tickets are $25. Kingsford Tour of Champions gives you the chance to judge and sample barbecue and listen to teams explain their craft. Each tour will last approximately an hour and a half. Tickets are $30. BBQ Alley tickets will also be available for purchase once you get inside the event, while supplies last.

SmokeSlam: The World's Ultimate BBQ Showdown

SmokeSlam aims to be more inclusive when it comes to eating. According to the festival info page, there will be "an interactive area where guests will be able to sample food and participate in engaging culinary-related events including demos from celebrity chefs."

The B&B Charcoal: Live Fire Extravaganza will be fired up from open to close each day and include demos and thousands of live fire samples showcasing the talents and culinary skills of BBQ professionals like Al Frugoni (Open Fire Cooking), Derek Wolf (Over the Fire Cooking), John Lindsey (All Q’ed Up), Mike Starr (Blazing Star BBQ), and Peg Leg Porkers.

meat on the smoker
Raphael Tenschert

It's a lot more than just 'cue competition

World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest

WCBCC has traditional events to not miss like sauce wrestling on opening night and the Ms. Piggie Idol Contest on Thursday night. Don't miss demos from the best in bbq either. 

Live music is included with general admission. Marcy's Playground will perform Thursday night at 8:30 p.m. at the Cattlemen's Stage. On Friday night, Ingram Hill will perform at 8:30 p.m. Saturday, DJ Mic-Tee will hold it down starting at 6:30 p.m. Check out the full schedule of all the events here.

SmokeSlam: The World's Ultimate BBQ Showdown

New traditions will be made with SmokeSlam but we do know is there will be a series of concerts each night with St. Paul & The Broken Bones headlining Saturday night at 8:45 p.m. and War (9 p.m.) and The Bar-Kays (7:30 p.m.) will headline Friday. There will be fireworks every night starting at 10:15 p.m.

In addition to music, there will be a full carnival with a ferris wheel, carousel, games, and more.

BBQ Alley, the public eating lounge option, at WCBCC
Alex Shansky
bbq fest wcbcc tent
Alex Shansky

Common Sense, More Tips, and It May Be Wet This Year...

Weather forecasts change quickly and frequently so fingers crossed it doesn't rain every day as is predicted now. It may cool things off a little bit but still expect for it to be a bit hot and dare I say.. muggy. 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
  • 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. Also, it may be muddy if the rain holds up.
  • Charge your phone!! if you don't have a portable charger, get one ASAP
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 us in your photos online and use hashtag #ilovememphis. 

Don’t miss out on all the Memphis goodness!

Comments Make Us Happy

Leave a Comment
The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
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