Pitmasters from all over the country are converging in Denver this summer for the inaugural Denver BBQ Festival. Hosted at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on Father’s Day weekend (June 15-17), the event comes from the founders of a similar fest in St. Louis called, Q in the Lou.
“We’re very excited to be bringing a world-class BBQ event with some of the nation’s top pitmasters to Denver,” said founder of Eximius Productions and Q in the Lou, Brian Wahby. “Denver has some great BBQ masters, and we’re happy to be bringing other award-winning pitmasters from around the country to what will become Denver’s largest annual BBQ festival.”
With the promise to serve up to 18,000 pounds of meat, the massive festival is unique in several ways. First, entry on Saturday and Sunday is free (ticketed all-you-can-eat options are available, alongside a preview day on Friday). On these days, you can purchase by the plate which could be a difficult choice, considering the lineup of vendors. That takes us to our second point. Masters of ‘cue from beyond Denver are coming to us. This is particularly exciting, since beyond a handful of our killer local pitmasters, authentic regional barbecue is not nearly as plentiful as you’d find in the south. But come that weekend, you’ll be in hog heaven. The lineup includes BBQ joints from Texas to Missouri.
2018 Denver BBQ Festival Pitmaster Lineup:
- Carey Bringle, Peg Leg Porker in Nashville, Tennesse
- Mike Johnson & Christina Fitzgerald, Sugarfire Smokehouse in St. Louis, Missouri
- Brad & Brooke Orrison, The Shed BBQ in Ocean Springs, Mississippi
- Mike Emerson, Pappy’s Smokehouse in St. Louis, Missouri
- Big Moe Cason, Ponderosa BBQ in Des Moines, Iowa
- John David Wheeler, Memphis BBQ Company in Horn Lake, Mississippi
- Garry Roark & Leslie Scott Roark, Ubon’s BBQ in Yazoo City, Mississippi
- Scott Roberts, Salt Lick BBQ in Driftwood, Texas
- Jason Ganahl, GQUE BBQ in Westminster, Colorado
- Joe Duncan, Baker’s Ribs, Dallas, Texas
For discerning barbecue fans, there are a couple of names that stand out. The Shed, known for its brisket and baby back ribs, has been featured on the Food Network multiple times and has won barbecue competitions left and right. The Salt Lick down in Texas is another legendary joint. It has solidified its spot as one of the best in the nation after more than 50 years in business. Denver’ GQ is also quickly becoming a top competitor locally and nationally for their incredible cue whereas Pappy’s Smokehouse is known for their iconic St. Louis style ribs. The list in general, while lacking the more internet famous joints like La Barbecue and Franklin’s, is still no doubt bringing the heat (and the meat) to Denver this summer.
Tickets for the Friday preview and all you can eat pit pass are now on sale and range from $75 to $125. And while 18,000 pounds of meat may sound like a lot, the cue is only there until it runs out so get your pass now and get in early.