If you’ve never heard of the Boro BBQ festival that’s now going in its 6th year, it’s been a long road to creating a BBQ festival that brings barbecue fans together. For a select few, those who have been to the little city in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, then you’ll know this lesser-known KCBS-sponsored festival also went under a different name- more than once…
Picture perfect barbecue for the judges to nosh on, with the king of the cue, pork ribs. That’s what the competitor are focusing all their effort, their sweat, and their skill to produce. And boy howdy, they step up to the plate. One rule of KCBS events is that the competitors can’t give out or sell their dishes as entered to the judges. One fun aspect of the Boro event is that they have a Taster’s Choice which is optional for the competitors to enter. Those that do fire up some pork, and festival attendees can sample up to 10 different variations for a small fee.
These folks know the accompaniments that are crucial to enjoying great barbecue. For you break between cue & brew, they also have some whiskey tastings at the event site. That’s what makes people want o be a part of the event, and literally feel good about it. To feel good on a less tangible level, the festival is a benefit for the Murfreesboro Breakfast Rotary Club for their good works in the community. That’s actually where the name came from; ‘boro. They keep it family friendly too, hosting an annual High School Steak Cookoff.
Here are the results of the 2023 event officially known as the ‘Dr. George Smith Barbecue Brawl’ held on May 12th & 13th at the Oaklands Mansion and Park.
- Grand Champion: Pig Destroyer
- Reserve Champion: Lee La Q
Individual Categories Competitor Series:
- Chicken: Small Batch BBQ
- Ribs: Charcoal Cowboys BBQ
- Anything Butt: Pig Destroyer
- Blinky’s Offset BBQ
CONGRATS TO ALL THE WINNERS!
The Origins of the Boro BBQ Festival
If you’ve ever wondered how someone comes up with the idea of making a barbecue festival, often the real story is all a bit of trial and error. To get a better background on where the Boro BBQ Festival concept was born we need to travel back in time to early 2014. It was at the 38th annual Pioneer Days festival that has been held at Cannonsburgh Pioneer Village that a single BBQ event was held on April 26, 2014.
Although this event was held as part of the Pioneer Days festivities, this small event was named the “BBQ Battle in the Boro”. It showcased top local BBQ cooks that were all from middle Tennessee making barbecue foods at the festival for guests who came to the Pioneer Days village. The BBQ event was organized by the Murfreesboro Breakfast Rotary Club and all the proceeds went directly to the Rotary Club from those who purchased BBQ foods from this competition.
After this small stint that helped boost income for the Murfreesboro Breakfast Rotary Club, they began to channel their efforts into having more of these fundraiser events. This is where the idea of the “Backyard BBQ Festival” sponsored by the Rotary Club began to throw special BBQ events. This included one of the very first of these that was initially called “A Porked Up Affair” and took place on October 17, 2014.
They further boasted that they would be returning to the Cannonsburgh Pioneer Village for their very first stand-alone Backyard BBQ Festival for 2015. They even have a great video that showcases their BBQ event that still seems to be up on Facebook! It was led by Bill Taylor who boasted that this would be (In Fact), their 3rd annual BBQ event at the Pioneer Village, but there is no such info that ever shows they were part of any news for Pioneer Days in 2013…
This was also the very first time that the Breakfast Rotary Club began to include their “High School Steak Cookoff”. This is a tradition that has been part of every Boro BBQ Festival competition since it began officially in 2019. They also featured a Cornhole tournament and their famous Rib Eating Contest. Essentially, all of the same festivities that were started with the Backyard BBQ Festival were morphed into the Boro BBQ Festival.
By 2016, this is the very first mention of the Boro BBQ Festival despite it still being officially called the Backyard BBQ Festival. It was also the first year that KCBS judges were on hand to judge the high school steak cook-off. They were also able to secure even more sponsors from local businesses who were eager to advertise their services at this highly publicized event for Pioneer Days in Cannonsburgh.
By 2017, the event was into its 3rd year and had now added craft beer tasting and now an officially sanctioned KCBS Backyard BBQ Brawl as part of their cook-off competition. By this time, the festival BBQ event was getting more press and plenty of praise for their BBQ event. It was without a doubt that this event was destined to become an official KCBS BBQ event. That ambition finally came in 2019 when the name was finally changed to the Boro BBQ Festival.
They even share this info on their main website with the winners of their first official KCBS-sanctioned cook-off results. This is where the “Boro BBQ Festival” began yet with all of the previous Breakfast Rotary Club events, the logo for this BBQ festival hasn’t changed since they first popped up in 2014! The only thing that has changed is their location which is now located on the grounds of Oaklands Mansion instead of the Cannonsburgh Pioneer Village.
What Makes the Boro BBQ Festival Special?
Every town in America has a Rotary Club and many of these chapters are responsible for their own fundraising programs. With special attention to their high school steak cook-off competitions, this helps bring more charitable charm to the festival. But the real meat and potatoes are most certainly the Dr. George Smith Barbecue Brawl. This pits no more than 50 top BBQ Pitmasters against each other for big cash prizes from 1st to 5th place winners.
This year’s 9th annual Boro BBQ Festival will be held May 12-13, 2022 at the historic Oaklands Mansion grounds. It’s a free event to visit and see the BBQ teams showing off their best BBQ skills. You can’t taste any of the BBQ food they make but there will be plenty of snacks and drinks available to purchase while at the event. If you plan ahead, you can take part in the Taster’s Choice Awards which allows the general public to take part in a separate judging event.
This event is separate from the KCBS judges and does allow you to taste the barbecue that comes from the competitors. This event does have a fee involved if you really enjoy tasting barbecue samples for this additional special event. Be sure to check their website for the latest news and upcoming musical artists that will be performing this year. We’ll certainly be checking back for follow-up info to see how this fairly new KCBS BBQ Cook-off festival has turned out. Check out our Memphis page for more information on events in this region of great BBQ.