Barbecue Festival

Telluride BBQ Festival

It’s not just a festival. It’s a competition. A serious competition. Anybody who is into barbecue does not take barbecue lightly. But, along with that competitive spirit comes a whole lot of fun expressed in true barbecue fashion. Let’s just say things have a tendency to heat up at 10,200 feet elevation.

With four different categories for competition that include beef, ribs, pork, and brisket, the Telluride Barbecue Festival happens each fall in the Mountain Village of Telluride, Colorado.

Endorsed by Kansas City Barbecue Society, this two-day Telluride Barbecue Festival happens on Saturday and Sunday in late September from 11:00am to 8:00pm.

All you have to do to locate this festival is drive to the Mountain Village core, or take the free gondola up from Telluride. The latter is probably preferable. Parking in the Village can be problematic, though the Interceptor Lot does have covered parking for free. There is also the option of parking in the Heritage garage, but at two dollars per hour, this can add up. And, driving might not be ideal for a free festival that offers $2 whiskey drink specials. And, parking can be accomplished in Telluride a bit more easily with the CarHenge lot only a short walk  (3 blocks) down the River Trail to the gondola.

Lodging may very well be more affordable at this time with off-season approaching. Suggestions include the Peaks Hotel, Hotel Madeline, and the Lumiere.

The good news: It’s absolutely free. That’s right. There is no charge to attend the Telluride Barbecue Festival, and there are no tickets to chase down. And, as a little bonus, anyone can show up for the free whiskey tasting event that happens on the Saturday of the festival.

And with all of this supremely barbecued meat, along with the whiskey tasters, why not throw in a mechanical bull? Telluride Barbecue Festival surely does, and it does draw a crowd. But then, so does the loud live music that pours from the stages set up for the event.

You’ll also find outdoor television sets broadcasting the NFL games that are happening that weekend. What more could the barbecue crowd want? Good weather.

Typically late September is heavenly in the Telluride Mountains. You’ll find sunny afternoon skies and a UV index that will trick you into thinking summer is still around. Wait until the sun goes down though. You’ll need layers, if not down and baselayer.

The professional barbecue teams will be selling their creations, and the public does have a chance to cast their votes by tasting and judging the professional’s barbecue.

Did we mention celebrity appearances? Johnny Trigg, the star of Destination America’s BBQ Pitmasters rolls into town to compete in the Telluride Barbecue Festival, which includes 17 other professional teams.

And the grand prize? Money. In fact, $8,000 is on the line, along with the opportunity to travel to Kansas City to heat things up even more: The American Royal Barbecue Championship, just a month later in October.

For more information on the Telluride Barbecue Festival, see