What sounds more like a Civil War re-enactment, the Tennessee River Battle is thankfully more faithful to staging a finely crafted barbecue event. It also occurs at the same time as the Saltillo River Day Festival is going on. If you’re into public food sampling, exciting BBQ contests, and great music, this festival along the Tennessee riverside is your ticket to everything that real Kansas BBQ is all about.
What’s the Tennessee River Battle all about?
Just so you know, any barbecue event is an officially sponsored event. The Kansas City Barbecue Society is an officially sanctions barbecue event group with oversees the rules and regulations of preserving the Kansas City rules of barbecue competition. The festival is officially called the Tennessee River BBQ Battle and Music Festival and will be held this year from September 23 and 24, which is Friday and Saturday.
This festival started in 2015 and was originally called Blues Hog BBQ & Music Festival up until 2018. It was held in early April for a couple of days. Because it was often held in March or April, it was also held in Savannah, Tennessee at the Green Acres RV Resort for its initial 3-year run. The name change finally has a big crossover in 2018 which shows that both the Blues Hog BBQ & Music Festival and the Tennessee River BBQ Battle and Music Festival were merged and rebranded.
The last year before this festival was re-branded, it was held in mid-April of 2018 and then switched to September 2019 up through 2021. It didn’t change from the Green Acres RV Park until a new location in Saltillo was decided for 2022. This new location sits directly at the edge of the Tennessee River in a location that is much larger than the old RV Park.
Will this year’s festival be the same?
At the previous festivals, the cook-off was a big highlight followed by tasting activities and judging events. There was also a car show and a live music stage. The strangest part of their 2018 festival was a warning of COVID-19 restrictions that weren’t apparent until 2020. Neither the 2020 nor 2021 event was canceled nor postponed due to Coronavirus, so this year’s 2022 event has no current restrictions.
As far as music, the latest news has no information just yet, so expect there will be the main stage with scheduled entertainers performing all day on Saturday. Food vendors have been announced for Saturday as well. Among the scheduled events, there will be the original People’s Choice event Saturday morning from 11am. Attendees may also sample the barbecued meats from the winning competitors allowing the public to choose their favorite.
The top prize awarded for the top prize of 1st place is worth $15,000 and includes some material prizes. There is a first, second, and third place that all have appropriate payout also. Since this competition will include several BBQ enthusiasts and pitmasters, there are prizes and giveaways for the additional winners up through 10th place. Since this is a true BBQ KCBS festival, there are additional awards that will go out for many BBQ categories additionally.
These include brisket, butt, ribs, pork, and chicken. There will also be a category just for kids for pork entrees for two age groups spanning young kids and teens.
How to get tickets or get involved?
Luckily, there are plenty of spaces available for both competitors and vendors. The newest location at Saltillo is large enough to bring in a much larger attendance, so the opportunity is wide open. The main page for vendor and competitor info gives more clarification on what is allowed and what is not. Because this is an official KCBS event, this will allow winners to qualify for other KCBS events such as The Jack (Jack Daniels Invitational BBA Cook-Off)
This can also lead to an official invitation to compete at The American Royal in Kansas City, so for any aspiring BBQ chefs and pitmasters, this is the best event to get registered for to start getting a qualification. Since this event is free to attend, it’s a great way to sample delicious BBQ or show off your BBQ skills. See more BBQ events in Memphis, Tennessee.