The Indiana Insider Blog

Summer Indiana BBQ Festivals

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I’ve got to say, I’ve renewed my love for BBQ ribs. The first weekend of May, I was a judge at the Smokin’ On the Water BBQ Festival in Liberty, Indiana. I had a great time, learned a lot about BBQ, and met some wonderful people. And now I’m on the prowl for barbecue festivals around the state, and wondering what I need to do to become a certified Kansas City Barbecue Society (KCBS) judge.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it’s many of the major ones around the state. If you know of any I missed, leave some information in the comments section.

13th Annual BBQ RibFest

June 17 – 20, 2010
Headwaters Park, Fort Wayne, Indiana (Allen County)
Martha Stewart Living! called Fort Wayne’s Ribfest one of the best barbecue festivals in the whole country. It’s 4 days of both national award-winning professional barbecue teams, as well as many local and backyard competitors. And after you have your fill of slow-roasted chicken, pulled pork, and, of course, ribs, you can top it off with funnel cakes, strawberry shortcakes, and lemon shakeups (to give you your daily fruit intake).

Smokin’ On The River

June 18 & 19, 2010
If you live in the southern part of the state, you may want to head to Jeffersonville this weekend. The Smokin’ On The River competition, which will feature live demonstrations, live blues and oldies music, and a beer garden (live, of course).

Clabber Girl Brickyard BBQ Fest

July 16 & 17, 2010
Terre Haute, Indiana (Vigo County)
(No information available on this event, but you can check out MyClabbergirl.com in the coming weeks. The event will be held in Terre Haute, at the Brickyard, but I can’t tell you much beyond that.)

Jasper Strassenfest Barbeque Contest

August 5 – 8, 2010
Jasper, Indiana (DuBois County)
The Jasper Strassenfest celebrates the city’s German heritage with that most traditional of German dishes, smoked pork ribs with hickory smoked barbecue sauce (wait, what?). Okay, maybe it’s not traditionally German, but the people of Jasper love good BBQ ribs as much as the folks from French Lick (see, that’s a European joke). On August 6 & 7, professional barbecuers will descend on Jasper. The Strassenfest Contest is part of the Hoosier BBQ Cup Trail, and an Indiana State Championship contest. The Grand Champion will also have a chance to compete in the American Royal Invitational in Kansas City, MO.

French Lick Resort Blues, Cruise, & BBQ Indiana State Barbeque Championship

August 13 & 14, 2010
French Lick, Indiana (Orange County)
The Blues, Cruise, and BBQ Championship promises to be one of the biggest barbecue festivals in the state, as organizers are expecting entrants from around the country. The grillers start grilling on Friday night for Saturday judging. But don’t think you’ll miss out on the meat, because the French Lick Resort chefs will be preparing the same meat categories for your enjoyment. And no BBQ festival would be complete without a classic car show, so for you hot rod and classic car enthusiasts, you don’t want to miss the Cruise-In Car Show either.

Madison Ribberfest

BBQ, Blues, and Balloons
August 20 & 21, 2010
Madison, Indiana (Jefferson County)
Set in historic and scenic Madison, Indiana, the Madison Ribberfest promises some excellent barbecue and great music along the Ohio River. Spicy ribs, lofty balloon races, and some hot blues, with a headline performance by blues veteran Delbert McClinton, await you during the 3rd weekend of August. Madison is a small town, so if you want accommodations nearby, book now, otherwise, you may find yourself driving in from Louisville and New Albany every morning.

Bean Blossom Blues, Brews, and BBQ

August 26 – 28, 2010
Nashville, Indiana (Brown County)
It’s not often that music gets better billing than barbecue, but I have to make an exception here. Guitar legend Kenny Wayne Shepherd is headlining this year’s Bean Blossom Triple B festival with his big performance on Saturday night. Even so, you don’t want to miss the beer and wine tasting (Friday and Saturday, starting at 7:00 pm), or the barbecue competition. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to buy any of the amazing concoctions at the event, but you’ll be able to watch and smell 36 of the top Indiana and Midwest barbecuers competing for a total purse of $5,000, as well as the chance to compete in the American Royal Barbecue.

The 5 Alarm Cook-Off

September 3 & 4, 2010
Haubstadt, Indiana (Gibson County)
(No information available on the 5 Alarm Cook-Off. Gibson County is just north of Evansville, near the “toe” of Indiana’s boot.)

Rotary Bands and BBQ Contest

September 17 & 18
Greenfield, Indiana (Hancock County)
(No information available. Greenfield is about 30 minutes east of Indianapolis. I met Jeni Ford, one of the organizers of the event at the Smokin’ On The Water event this month. The Rotary Bands and BBQ Contest is a fund raiser sponsored by the Greenfield Rotary Club.)

Photo (Smokin’ On the River):
Photo (Jasper Strassenfest): Thomas_Jung (Flickr)
Photo (French Lick): Blues, Cruise, and BBQ website

Have you checked out any of these great BBQ festivals in Indiana? Stay tuned to find out about how you can enjoy some great home-cooked food today!

Be sure to check out the Indiana Summer of Savings today for an exclusive offer related to this post!

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Written by : is a professional blogger and social media consultant. He is also a humor columnist in several weekly papers around Indiana, and on his own blog at ErikDeckers.com. A supporter of the local arts scene, Erik is a rabid fan of the Indy Fringe Theatre Festival in the summer. Erik is married and a father of three, and a Ball State alum. Erik receives compensation from the Indiana Office of Tourism Development — and a warm fuzzy feeling — for blogging. For more information, see our FTC Disclosure page.