International Bar-B-Q Festival kicks off barbecue season in Owen - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

International Bar-B-Q Festival kicks off barbecue season in Owensboro

(KFVS) -

The International Bar-B-Q Festival offers great barbecue, music and fun in Owensboro.

Visitors can sample and take home barbecue from the best cooks around.

The festival is May 13-14 on the downtown riverfront.

On Friday, the BBQ Fest Kick Off Concert features Kentucky native John Michael Montgomery at the Owensboro Convention Center.

The concert begins at 7 p.m., and there will be more live entertainment at the Festival Plaza Stage until midnight. 

The 38th annual event is the kick off for a long season of smaller barbecue picnics at the area’s Catholic parishes.

The summertime events are deeply connected to Owensboro’s barbecue history.

St Mary Magdalene Church celebrated the 100th anniversary of its picnic last year. 

“Barbecue is uniquely Owensboro and the festival reflects our culture of special food and music,” said Shannon Wetzel, executive director of Visit Owensboro. “The festival is a fun way to celebrate that heritage.”

What makes this festival unusual are two competition categories. Local grill masters and traveling teams from throughout the nation cook in the Backyard Cook-Off. 

On Saturday afternoon you can sample a variety of meats prepared by 50 cooks entered in the contest.

The main event is the Governor’s Cup.

Five standout teams with up to 40 cooks each vie for the title.

The barbecue is available for purchase in the afternoon with the winners announced at the end of judging.

Chicken is a given and so are two signature foods unique to Owensboro.

Those are slow cooked mutton and a western Kentucky original called burgoo.

It’s a hearty stew combination of mutton, chicken and vegetables. 

Governor’s Cup teams are expected to cook at least 600 pounds of mutton, 400 pounds of pork, 300 whole chickens and 60 gallons of burgoo.

There’s a 5k run/walk, arts and crafts, festival foods and activities for children.

A Mutton Glutton pass can be purchased to enjoy the festival VIP style on Saturday.

That’s also when Tyler Wood, a star from the Discovery series Moonshiners, appears at the festival.

Admission to the festival is free.

More information about the concert, Mutton Glutton passes and other festival news is available at bbqfest.com.

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