A new year signals the return of barbecue festivals to Polk County. You’ll find several opportunities to experience
mouthwatering barbecue during your Central Florida vacation. Plan to attend one of our popular annual competitions such as Lakeland
PigFest, Smoke on the Water and Ribs on the Ridge, which are coming up in
January and February. You'll find details for each of these events and more below.
Bring your appetite, as many of the competing teams will
be selling their barbecue specialties for your enjoyment.
Lake Alfred Bluegrass & BBQ Bash
Bluegrass & BBQ Bash Info
Lake Alfred's Annual Bluegrass & BBQ Bash kicks off the new year on January 13 at Lions Park. The day will be filled with world class bluegrass, including Southern Express Bluegrass and Highway 41 South, and food from some of the top BBQ teams from across Florida competing for cash prizes and trophies.
The 22nd Annual Lakeland PigFest takes place on Friday
evening and Saturday, January 26-27, at the SUN ‘n FUN Convention Campus in
Lakeland. This festival is the area’s largest barbecue competition of the year.
Admission is free but attendees must exchange cash for “Pig Bucks”, the
official currency of the Lakeland PigFest, to purchase food.
Lakeland PigFest Info
More than 150 teams are expected to compete, for a weekend of good eating, good friends and good tunes; to benefit Lakeland-area charities. Professional teams travel from all over the U.S. to compete in four categories: Ribs, Chicken, Pork and Brisket. Lakeland PigFest is a Kansas City Barbecue Society (KCBS) sanctioned event and the KCBS is the largest international organization of barbecue enthusiasts.
Budweiser Smoke on the Water BBQ Competition
Smoke on the Water BBQ Competition returns to Winter Haven on Saturday, February 3, from 10 am to 5:30 pm. More than 80 teams from across the country are expected to compete in this event, a qualifier for both the Jack Daniel's World Championship Invitational Barbecue and the Florida BBQ Association Triple Crown. Nominal fees for admission and parking benefit the Citrus Center Boys & Girls Clubs of Winter Haven, Lake Wales and Haines City.
Smoke on the Water Info
Barbeque will be available for purchase and attendees can also enjoy three stages full of entertainment, and water ski shows on Lake Cannon, over the course of the day.
Ribs on the Ridge
Ribs on the Ridge Info
Ribs on the Ridge takes place at Lake Eva
Park in Haines City on Friday evening, February 23 and Saturday, February 24.
This growing event has been the Florida BBQ Association’s largest competition
for the last five years and is a Jack Daniel’s Qualifier. Approximately 100
teams are expected to compete and the festival will have entertainment, food
and craft vendors and fun activities for the whole family.
After taking a break over the summer, BBQ festivals resume
in the fall with Mulberry’s
Fine Swine at the Pit in October.
If you can’t make it to one of these several festivals,
never fear. You can feed your barbecue habit all year long in Polk County, as
our area offers numerous barbecue restaurants. Well known, popular
establishments that fired up in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s include
Peebles Bar-B-Q and Jimbo’s Pit Bar B-Q respectively. Brock’s Smoke Hut has been recognized by
National Barbecue News as one of the “Best of the Best Barbecue Restaurants in
America.” Smokin Jim's House of Bar-B-Q in Auburndale received TripAdvisor's
Certificate of Excellence in 2014. This round-up barely scratches the surface
of BBQ options so check out our dining section to see details on these and the
many additional restaurants available in the area.