As the frost melts, spring barbecue grills heat up. Barbecue connoisseurs emerge from hibernation to begin seasoning, flipping, and smoking slabs of pulled pork, brisket, and ribs, while debating which regional sauce is best. March and April abound with barbecue festivals across the country, making this the perfect time to sample and celebrate one of America’s favorite cuisines.
1) Hogs for the Cause — New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans is home to a thriving food scene, but don’t think this city’s cuisine is limited to jambalaya and gumbo. Barbecue is the star of the show at the Hogs for the Cause Festival, March 21-April 1. Taste the region’s finest offerings while enjoying a full slate of live bands. You might even find some pitmasters using neighboring Alabama’s unique white sauce, which has a tangy mayonnaise base. Stay at Jude Travel Park of New Orleans to be close to the action.
2) NC ’Cuegrass Festival — Raleigh, North Carolina
Bluegrass and spring barbecue are a marriage made in Southern heaven, and you can enjoy both at the NC ’Cuegrass Festival on April 16. Not only do North Carolinians like barbecue, but they are also known for their own style of vinegar-based sauce. Sample the best barbecue and local brews in the region as you enjoy foot-tapping bluegrass from award-winning acts. Nearby Raleigh Oak RV Resort & Cottages offers a clean campground bounding with amenities.
3) Suncoast BBQ and Bluegrass Bash — Venice, Florida
With a fish fry, chili cook-off and championship barbecue, you had better come with a hearty appetite to the Suncoast BBQ and Bluegrass Bash, April 14-15. Take a ride in a hot air balloon or join in the corn toss contest for some family fun. A sporting clays tournament and live music round out the entertainment for this festival. The Florida Pines Mobile Home Court offers a scenic place to stay in this city on Florida’s beautiful Gulf Coast.
4) Rock’n Ribs BBQ Festival — Springfield, Missouri
Missouri puts its own flair on barbecue. The signature style primarily evolved in Kansas City, where meats are slowly smoked and topped with a sticky sauce made from tomato and molasses. The region’s finest pitmasters will head to Springfield’s Rock’n Ribs Festival, April 21-22, to compete for over $15,000 in prize money. Live music, a Texas hold’em tournament, and family fun round out the event. The Ozark Highlands RV Park is nearby.
5) High on the Hog Festival—Winchester, Tennessee
Tennessee’s take on spring barbecue falls into two traditions: ribs served wet or dry. Wet ribs are coated in tangy sauce, while dry ribs pack a flavorful punch due to the signature spice rubs added before smoking. You can sample both at Winchester’s High on the Hog Festival, April 21-22. Part of the Southern Pride Triple Crown Series, this event brings the state’s best pitmasters and backyard barbecue amateurs together to compete for a slate of prizes. A full plate of entertainment is offered through the week, with a carnival, live bands, motorcycle poker run, beauty pageant and more. Two Rivers Campground in nearby Nashville puts visitors close to the grilling fun.