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Events and Gatherings

The word barbecue is also used to refer to a social gathering where food is served, usually outdoors in the early afternoon or evening. In the southern USA, outdoor gatherings are not typically called "barbecues" unless barbecue itself will actually be on the menu, instead generally favoring the word "cookouts".

Diagram of a propane smoker used for barbecuingThe device used for cooking at a barbecue is commonly referred to as a "barbecue", "barbecue grill", or "grill". In North Carolina, however, "barbecue" is a noun primarily referring to the food and never used by native North Carolinians to describe the act of cooking or the device on which the meat is cooked.

  • Often referred to as "The World Series of Barbecue", The American Royal Barbecue Contest is held each October in Kansas City, Missouri. This event comprises two distinct competitions held over the course of four days. The first contest is the Invitational Contest, with competing teams being required to obtain an invitation by winning other qualifying contests throughout the year.

The second competition is an open contest that any team can compete in. This open contest is the largest championship barbecue competition in the world, with the 2007 event attracting 496 teams.

  • The World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest is held annually in Memphis, Tennessee, during the Memphis in May festival. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, it is the world's largest pork barbecue contest.

Other barbecue competitions are held in virtually every state in the United States during the warmer months, usually beginning in April and going through September. One of the best known was the Ribfest, first organized by former Chicago newspaper columnist Mike Royko, which attracted over 400 contestants in 1982, ballooned to 750 entries and over 10,000 attendees by 1990, and helped popularize the distinctions between different regional styles to a much wider audience.

These events feature keen competitions between teams of cooks and are divided into separate competitions for the best pork, beef and poultry barbecue and for the best barbecue sauces.


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