Bar-B-Q lovers start arriving at International Bar-B-Q Festival

Local News

The smells of burgoo, pulled pork, and other items are filling the air in downtown Owensboro as the 40th annual International Bar-B-Q Festival starts today.

For some, it’s a festival that’s grown and changed a lot over the years.

“Every year, people flock to this place,” says Frank Stainbach, who was having lunch at the festival Friday afternoon.

They come for the traditional favorites, for their personal favorites.

“I just wanted to come down, get some fried Oreos,” said Erin Bailey of Owensboro.

For those getting the first meals hot off the grill, they think the festival’s drawn bigger crowds as it got bigger the past four decades.

“We seem to have more, and more, and more people that come every year actually regardless of the weather,” Stainbach says.

“There’s a lot more booths,” adds Rick Decker of Owensboro. “A lot more rides for the kids. The entertainment’s better. It’s been a lot better since they got the park done.”

Organizers say the streets will be lined with more than a hundred vendors in town this weekend. Nearly 30,000 people attended last year’s edition, including thousands watching the Mutton Glutton Mutton Sandwich Eating Contest. But all defending champion Joey Chestnut can do is look as he prepares to defend his title, and try to top last year’s mark of 55 sandwiches eaten.

“We’re surrounded by really good cooking teams and really love their food. I love to eat and it’s a battle for me not to be eating right now. I just have to stay focused on the contest,” he said.

Chestnut will defend his title Saturday afternoon at 4:00 at the festival stage at McConnell Plaza. 

Festival co-chair Allen Payne told us they’ve added more stages for more musical performers and booths all along downtown.

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(This story was originally published on May 11, 2018)

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