National Capital BBQ Battle 2012
Pennsylvania Ave NW (between 9th and 14th Streets)
Washington, D.C. 20003
Dates: Saturday, June 23 – 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday, June 24 - 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Price: Advanced – $12 for adults, $5 kids ages 6-12, kids 5 and under are free; At the gates – $15 for adults, $5 kids ages 6-12
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Safeway BBQ Battle in DC. For two days, the streets of Pennsylvania Ave NW are shut down and the smell of sweet, smoky BBQ fills the air. Not only do the nation’s top BBQ pit masters come to claim over $40,000 in prizes, but a portion of the revenue from admission tickets goes to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington. Over the past 19 years, the BBQ Battle raised more than $1.2 million for D.C. charities.
The top five not-to-miss events at the battle include visiting the pit masters, sampling free food, shopping for the perfect BBQ gifts, dancing to the live music and learning from the brightest culinary minds at the demonstration stage.
Visit the Pit Masters
Don’t panic when you see smoke at the festival. That’s just flavor. At the BBQ Battle, there’s an entire city block dedicated to the pit masters who will compete in six different contests both Saturday and Sunday in what’s called America’s National Barbecue Championship. There are awards offered on both days.
Saturday: Rancher’s Reserve Guaranteed Tender Beef Contest, Perdue Sizzlin Chicken Contest, Open Nature All Natural Lamb Contest “Australian Lamb” and In Search of America’s Best BBQ Sauce Contest
Sunday: The National Championship and Safeway Select Extra Meaty Rib Contest
If you’re contemplating choosing one day over the other because you think you’ll get samples of this BBQ, think again. These pit masters are here to compete and will not be doling out samples. But you can check out their pits and talk with them about all things BBQ.
Related: Best Places for Chili in DC
Free Food Samples Tent
Always a popular attraction, the tent boasting free food samples is a big festival hit. The line forms early and often, but moves relatively quickly, so don’t be discouraged. Inside the sample tent, you’ll find many prepared foods for the tasting that Safeway features in its stores. The tasting tent will be open both days of the festival from 12 p.m. until 6 p.m. Stop by for a delicious bite.
Shop for the Perfect BBQ Gifts
What BBQ festival would be complete without the opportunity to bring BBQ sauce and tools home with you? While the pit masters may give you some inspiration, you can pick up all you’ll need to make your own BBQ. From Carolina to Kentucky, sauces, rubs, salts and everything in between can be found. If you’re dying for a big plate of BBQ, food stands will be selling sausages, pork, ribs, pulled BBQ and all the trimmings.
The BBQ Battle features 30 bands on three stages over two days, so there’s always live entertainment. The stage also has seating so it gives you the opportunity to relax for a bit and take in some tunes. There are headliners both Saturday and Sunday and once these big-timers are finished with their set, more bands take the stage to keep the beat of BBQ going.
Saturday: Chuck Brown and Soul Asylum
Sunday: ConFunkShun and Cowboy Mouth
Sure you can get BBQ sauce and meat, but how do you make it taste as succulent and juicy as the pit masters you’ll meet at the Safeway BBQ Battle? Ranchers Reserve Chef Chad Schafer will provide cooking demonstrations at the event. The demonstration includes free samples; get there early to grab a seat and have a chance at tasting some of the delectable BBQ you’ll see made. Specific information about this event has not yet been released, but check the website closer to festival time to see when and where the chef will be working his magic.
Related: Best Soul Food in the DC Area
Jamie Hardin is the counter-culture Washingtonian in the know. Inspired by food, sustainability issues, and public health, she prides herself on finding DC’s off-the-beaten path treasures. When she isn’t enjoying organic food or reducing her carbon footprint, Jamies traveling on her scooter or walking her two pit bulls. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.