BBQ & Barrels represents the culmination of 45 years of a cultural tradition in Owensboro and Daviess County. It is the celebration of our past, our present, and our future, bringing together two of Owensboro’s greatest traditions – authentic, unparalleled Owensboro barbecue and historic Kentucky bourbon.
Since 1979, people from all over have gathered in Owensboro, Kentucky, for the International Bar-B-Q Festival. Over the years, the festival continued to grow and evolve to include activities such as concerts, car shows, pageants, road races, and even a professional Mutton Eating Competition, with world champion Joey Chestnut taking the grand prize three years in a row. When COVID hit our area, the festival still continued with the Drive-Thru Festival, where festival organizers handed out free barbecue to thousands of people on the ‘traditional’ Bar-B-Q Festival weekend. Once larger gatherings were allowed again, the International Bar-B-Q Festival Board transitioned to the Bar-B-Q Block Party. The refocused event continued the barbecue tradition in Owensboro on the 2nd weekend in May, with dozens of barbecue vendors filling downtown Owensboro in addition to the church cooking teams and Backyard BBQ Cookoff competition.
In 2023, with the explosion of bourbon back into western Kentucky and Green River Distilling Co. playing a prominent role along the Bourbon Trail, event organizers introduced BBQ and Barrels – a celebration of two of Owensboro’s rich traditions! We brought the focus back to its roots- true Kentucky barbecue- while adding in elements of Kentucky bourbon. Guests love the familiarity of the traditional festival, including the Backyard BBQ Cookoff, church cooking teams, live music, carnival rides, and more barbecue vendors than you have ever seen in downtown Owensboro- all open to the general public! The Owensboro Convention Center is the home of the “Barrels,” offering ticketed bourbon tastings, food pairings, and educational classes.
Join us in Downtown Owensboro on May 10 & 11, 2024, and Savor the Flavor of BBQ & Barrels!