Did you know that our little town of Port Macquarie plays host to an annual Blues & BBQ Festival? Created by local lovers of everything smoked, slow cooked, and flame-grilled, the festival has been running successfully since 2014. From humble beginnings, the festival grew year on year, from just 20 teams to nearly 100! Each year, BBQ enthusiasts from around Australia converge to compete for the title of best BBQ crew, as they go head to head in the Buffalo Trace Australian Barbecue Wars. The event is sponsored by Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey – what a match!

Across the two-day event, fiercely competitive teams go hard in a ‘grilling’ competition, officially sanctioned by the Australasian Barbecue Alliance. Mark our words, this is serious stuff and the teams pull out all stops to impress the judges!

Check out the video below made by Percival Property, which perfectly embodies everything about the Blues & BBQ Festival!

Competition categories

This isn’t just a snags and steak affair. Competitors are required to submit creations from lots of different categories. In 2018 they must serve up the following preparations –

  • Taco
  • Burger
  • Wings
  • Steak
  • Chicken
  • Pork Ribs
  • Pork
  • Lamb
  • Brisket

There are rules around the types of cuts that can be used but the cooking methods are likely to vary between smoked, flame-grilled and slow cooked – but it must involve a BBQ.

Photo of roast pork being sliced

When is the Blues & BBQ festival held?

In 2018, the festival will be held over two days, 14 – 15 September 2018. With the Spring weather warming up, it’s the perfect time of year for visitors to come to Port Macquarie and enjoy the festival.

Event location

The event is mainly centered around the Port Macquarie Town Green, which is located right next to Lady Nelson Wharf, on the Hastings River. The BBQ competitors usually set up camp (and their BBQ’s) at the Breakwall Holiday Park near Town Beach but for the general public, the best place to be is the Town Green. You can however take a stroll through the holiday park and check out the competitors’ set ups, some of them are super ingenious and some are really impressive (think massive smokers the size of caravans and bespoke hand made equipment) – you might pick up some tips for home!

Event cost

Entry into the Blues & BBQ Festival is completely FREE!

What’s on the menu?

The BBQ meats cooked by the competitors are (sadly) not available for public consumption. They need to feed the judges, so there’s not enough for us common folk to enjoy. But don’t worry, event organisers have got the punters covered! There will be an array of food trucks at the event for you to purchase your very own BBQ treats. Here’s the list of food trucks in attendance in  2018:

  • Bar-B-Skew – where you can sample some delicious Filipino street food
  • Big Papa’s Food Truck – for all your burger needs
  • Bovine and Swine BBQ Co. – Have a go at Texas-style BBQ
  • Black Iron Smokers and BBQ – More Texas-style BBQ food!
  • Parrilla Argentino BBQ – for those chasing a South-American style BBQ plate
  • Rangers Texas BBQ –  Even more Texas-style BBQ treats!
  • Smokin’ Grill – Did we mention Texas-style BBQ?

Photo of Texan BBQ, ribs, baby rack, wings platter with nachos

As you can see from the list above, all of your low and slow, flame-grilled meat needs will be met on the day! If you’re chasing a sweet treat there will also be a Retro Ice Cream truck set up and serving dessert as well.

All of the food trucks will be set up at the Town Green which is also where the main stage is located. So head down to the Town Green, set up your picnic blanket, watch the winners’ announcements and have a big feed!

Blues & BBQ Festival Program

Friday 14 September, 4pm – 9pm at The Town Green and Breakwall Holiday Park.

Saturday 15 September, 11am – 9pm at The Town Green and Breakwall Holiday Park.

Entertainment line up

It wouldn’t be a Blues and BBQ Festival without a bit of live music, would it? Organisers have laid the entertainment on thick this year with heaps to keep you occupied. On the lineup at Blues & BBQ this year are:

The Sweet Jelly Rolls – a Sydney duo who ‘take country back to its basics’. They promise harmonies that are sticky sweet, and a taste of that old time country blues flavour.

Little Quirks – The Little Quirks are a young, all-girl Central Coast trio made up of siblings Abbey and Mia and their cousin Jaymi. They have a folk/contemporary acoustic sound with an amazing blend of mandolin, guitar and drums.

Nana Klumpp – Local lads from Bonny Hills, who love to party and play indie/surf rock music.

Mike & Roxy – Port Macquarie acoustic duo whose sound is both laid back and soulful.

Frank Sultana – Roots and Indie singer-songwriter who cites Tom Waites, The Rolling Stones and Son House as his influences.

Photo of a man playing the guitar

Getting there

The Town Green in Port Macquarie is located at the intersection of Horton Street and Clarence Street. If you’re driving, we recommend car pooling as the town centre is sure to be busy! Otherwise, why not save yourself the stress (and carbon emissions) and catch the bus? Bus routes 322, 324, 325, 334, 335, 340, 341, 335W, 334K will all get you to Horton Street – you can check out more information on local buses here.

What to bring

Firstly, make sure you only have a light breakfast or lunch before coming, to save room for all of that meaty deliciousness! Secondly, here’s some suggestions of what to bring with you to make sure your day is enjoyable:

  • Picnic rug and or/folding chairs
  • Cash for food trucks
  • Wet wipes for those sticky fingers!
  • Hat and sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Keep cup, if you plan on having a coffee

Photo of young couple on a picnic blanket

That concludes our guide to the Blues & BBQ Festival

Be sure to head along and support this fantastic local event, it’s a great family day out and the food is sure to be delicious! Once you’ve been to the festival, if you’re looking for a Sunday afternoon drink to cap off a great day, head to Jimmy’s Bar & Lounge and sample our Whisky list – we have more than 100 to choose from! You can read all about the Blues & BBQ Festival by visiting the event website here.

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