This article was edited on 8-13-2014. A slide show was added!
I was at this BBQ event in Las Vegas last weekend. The Las Vegas BBQ Championship was a two day event on May 21st and May 22nd 2011. The Las Vegas BBQ Championship is the wildest, craziest barbecue event of them all! Admission was free. The weather was perfect. Bright sunny skies and a comfortable 80º. That is ideal BBQ weather!
I attended the BBQ Championship on Sunday after checking my bags in with the valet bellhop at the Aria Resort Casino, in City Center. I never bothered to settle into my hotel room. I just immediately hopped into a taxi and went directly to the big Las Vegas BBQ Championship!
The Las Vegas BBQ event was held outdoors at the Orleans Casino Arena parking lot. BBQ is not an indoor event, because of smoke regulations. Believe me, there was some serious BBQ smoking going on!
Towards the entrance of the BBQ event, there were many concessions stands and beer tents. This was going to be a beer and BBQ afternoon like no other. A couple of live country music bands performed on stage during the entire event. Las Vegas has some seriously good musicians and bands, so the music was really rockin' and jammin'!
Music, beer and barbecue! That is a good time no matter how you spell it. Barbecue people usually "have a few screws loose"! BBQ competitors are notoriously crazy, eccentric and fun. The crazier the better is the BBQ rule of thumb. The way that the competitors dressed and the way that they talked was all done with classic BBQ competitor style.
The Las Vegas Barbecue Championship was open to professional BBQ competition teams as well as amateur BBQ teams. Most of the competitors were from west of the Mississippi. There were a few BBQ teams from Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee and Alabama. Most of the competitors were from Texas, Montana, California, Idaho, Oregon, Utah, Arizona and of course Nevada.
Anything that even remotely had to do with barbecue was on display or for sale. There were several secret recipe BBQ sauce stands selling some very nice BBQ sauce concoctions. There were free tastings of sauces and BBQ at nearly every stand.
I must admit, I do prefer southern styles of BBQ. Most of the sauces for sale were sweet California style BBQ sauces. I tasted as many as I possibly could! That is a necessary requirement for BBQ spectators!
There were so many custom stylish BBQ grills on display or for sale. BBQ grills were customized in ways that were hard to believe. The hot rod flame job grills, speed boat grills, custom painted BBQ wagons, and oddly shaped BBQ grills were fascinating to look at. My two favorite custom grills for the day was a char grill that was customized to look like a big pink pig and the other was a BBQ grill that was customized to look like a big old western six shooter pistol. The gun's cylinder opened up to the char grill inside and the gun barrel served as the smoke stack. Smoke was literally pouring out of the barrels of the smokin' gun BBQ grills! The smokin' gun grill was the coolest BBQ grill idea that I have seen in a long time.
I did professional barbecue cooking for one year early in my career. The restaurant that I worked in was the busiest BBQ restaurant in America. Our BBQ won the Best Ribs In America Award several times! Our barbecue was lightly smoked over white oak and hickory, before being slow roasted and sauced on an open pit or char grill. That old BBQ company used to do the east coast BBQ tour. The BBQ tour involves going to every BBQ tour event, then entering in the competitive BBQ events, as well as selling ribs to a massive sea of people! Most of the BBQ events were held at county fairs.
Our specialty was baby back ribs. As soon as we opened the tent for business in the morning, we cooked and sold BBQ non stop till the end of the day! We sold thousands of pounds of baby back ribs each day! We made millions of dollars every summer on the eastern BBQ tour! Our company never traveled west. There is only so much ground that can be covered each summer.
As one can tell, I know BBQ big time. I have posted several styles of BBQ recipes in my blog that are worth checking out!
At the Las Vegas BBQ Championship BBQ teams with wild themes and logos were everywhere at the event. There was a few miles of BBQ stands and tents at the Las Vegas BBQ Championship! All that walking creates a big hunger!
The best competitors had plenty of BBQ for sale. I decided to support the home BBQ teams. The Sin City Smokers BBQ team and the University of Nevada Las Vegas BBQ team were my two favorites! The Sin City Smoker BBQ team was the crazier of the two!
After a couple of beers and lots of walking, I sat down to have a UNLV style BBQ pulled pork sandwich. The sandwich was piled a mile high with delicious barbecued pulled pork! The sandwich was way too big for me to eat, so I left the bun on the plate and ate all the barbecued pulled pork! I was stuffed and full for several hours after the BBQ event! The UNLV BBQ sauce tended to be on the sweet spicy side. The flavor was addictive!
Walking from one BBQ team tent to the next, I had plenty of great BBQ conversations. The local Las Vegas BBQ teams liked talking with me about the town and the event.
My favorite BBQ menu by a competitor went to one of the Florida teams. The menu board used duct tape to cover old menu changes and new items or prices were written on the duct tape! Now that is an authentic Florida redneck style BBQ menu.
Comical comments that were along the lines of the old "Deliverance movie cliches" were heard everywhere at the event. "Squeal like a pig!" is a commonly used phrase at a big BBQ competition!
Every kind of BBQ style was cooked at this competition. Arabic, Chinese, Korean and Japanese BBQ were popular styles at the championship. One of the local favorites in Las Vegas is Memphis Ribs. There are several Memphis Ribs restaurants in the Las Vegas valley. Memphis Ribs specialized in dry rubbed BBQ with the sauce on the side.
Every kind of BBQ cooking method and style was on display at the championship. If you do not like one BBQ style, move on to the next tent. You will eventually find your favorite BBQ style at an event like this.
I can imagine this Las Vegas BBQ Championship event growing in size in the future and drawing in even crazier BBQ acts. The $125,000 Las Vegas BBQ Championship was an incredibly wild and crazy fun time!
This annual $125,000 Las Vegas BBQ Championship is well worth planning a vacation around. Highly recommended by yours truly! I'll be there next year. $125,000 is a lot of prize money. Yummy Las Vegas Barbecue!