Racking up the Awards

A happy cook at the Blue Ridge BBQ Fest in Tryon.

A happy cook at the Blue Ridge BBQ Fest in Tryon.

It’s hard to say, sometimes, whether craft beer or heritage barbecue is the bigger culinary trend in Western North Carolina. But when it comes to the mountain counties south of Asheville, ’cue may claim an edge. The 21st annual Blue Ridge BBQ & Music Festival, happening June 12 and 13 at Harmon Field in Tryon, gets bigger every year, both in participants and in purse (more than $20,000 will be disbursed this year to “cookers,” with a special category reserved for those who cook “whole hog,” a revered N.C. tradition).

At press time, around 75 cookers from around the Southeast were expected at the event, ready to fire up beef brisket, pulled pork, ribs, and other pit specialties. There’s even a “dessert” category, likely including – but not limited to – fruit cobbler and banana pudding.

A huge classic-car show, crafts, and live roots music (veteran bluegrass rockers Acoustic Syndicate, of Cleveland County, headline this year) make it a full-scale family affair. Because after the friendly sauce wars subside and the Governor’s Trophy is handed out, that’s the meat of this multigenerational tradition.

10 am-11 pm both days. www.blueridgebbqfestival.com

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