SmokeSlam: BBQ, Music, Rides, Games & More In The Heart Of Memphis!

Team SmokeMasters BBQ was named Grand Champion during the first three-day SmokeSlam barbecue contest on Saturday, May 18th at Tom Lee Park in Memphis. I came not to meet the winners but to taste as much BBQ as possible in a four or five hour time frame. If there was a Grand Champion award for Largest Appetite For BBQ at SmokeSlam, I would have been the winner hands down!

SmokeSlam is a new competitor to the World Championship Of BBQ which takes place in Memphis each May and is considered to be the ultimate in this pork BBQ although everything imaginable goes on the grills there from veggies to wings to Texas Style beef ribs. I think the best of the best of the numerous BBQ samples that I “downed” was the tray of American wagyu brisket that made its way into one of the VIP booths.

SmokeSlam is designed to be a comprehensive festival experience featuring over 55 barbecue teams competing for a record-setting $275,000 prize purse, the largest in pork BBQ competition history. The competition includes categories like Whole Hog, Ribs, Pulled Pork, and additional categories such as Dessert, Bacon, Duck, Poultry, Beef, Seafood, and Wings.

Every team gave their all and so I want to list all 55 participants here:

  1. BBQ Brawlers
  2. Smokin’ Mavericks
  3. Hog Heaven
  4. Ribs R Us
  5. Piggy’s Pride
  6. Meat Masters
  7. Smoke Stack
  8. Southern Smoke
  9. Grill Gurus
  10. Holy Smokes
  11. Saucy Swine
  12. Rib Rangers
  13. Fire & Brimstone BBQ
  14. Porky’s Revenge
  15. Smoke on the Water
  16. Delta Blues BBQ
  17. Memphis Meatheads
  18. Smoky Mountain BBQ
  19. Backyard Bandits
  20. Hickory Heat
  21. Charcoal Champions
  22. Burnt Ends BBQ
  23. Sweet Heat
  24. Pit Bosses
  25. Tennessee Tenders
  26. Rubbed Right BBQ
  27. Pulled Perfection
  28. Grilled Glory
  29. Hot Coal Cookers
  30. Barbecue Bros
  31. Swine Dining
  32. Blazing BBQ
  33. Hickory Hogs
  34. BBQ Bandits
  35. Fire Pit Crew
  36. Smoky Warriors
  37. Grill Thrills
  38. Hickory Smoked
  39. Pork Perfectionists
  40. Sizzling Smoke
  41. BBQ Mavericks
  42. Meat Market BBQ
  43. Southern Smokehouse
  44. BBQ Brigade
  45. Pit Masters
  46. Tender Ribs
  47. Smokey Treats
  48. Burning Brisket
  49. Memphis Meat Mafia
  50. BBQ Battalion
  51. Smokey’s Finest
  52. Grilled Goodness
  53. Charcoal Commanders
  54. Rib Rubbers
  55. Hog Wild BBQ

Beyond the barbecue, SmokeSlam offers live music from both local and national acts, a carnival complete with a Ferris wheel and games, a central marketplace for local goods, and interactive cooking demos by celebrity chefs. There were musical legends on hand like War The Band and The Nark-Kays this past Friday night and the shows were part of the daily ticket price (it is very considerate that they do not charge for concerts of this magnitude).

The festival emphasizes inclusivity and aims to attract not just barbecue enthusiasts but also families and music lovers, creating an engaging atmosphere for all attendees. There is even a team of Under 21 competitors called the World Junior BBQ League and I am a little sad that I did not get around to tasting any of the goods prepared by these talented young pitmasters! I want to add that as an added bonus, SmokeSlam has dozens of demos with celebrity chefs and resto owners. You can get up close and personal with the hear folks and I was excited to see my hometown heroes from Blue Smoke at the festival!

For more information, you can visit the official website, I suggest that you get your tickets for May 2025 at least a couple of months ahead of time to insure admittance. Tickets start at $25 per day and go all the way up to $200 to get to sit in the VIP lounge. Dress is casual and the best part is that the samples are big–you pretty much get whole ribs, not little tiny cubes of meat that other food fests are known for.

In case you are curious what the VIP Lounge looks like and if it is worth the price, I have placed a photo above. It is super comfortable and looks like a very modern outdoor living room and has its own private bar and designated parking area. There’s a booth with tons of complimentary barbecue guest needs including bug repellent, wet wipes, hand sanitizer, sunscreen and more. Sponsors have booths atop the VIP Lounge that give them a bird’s eye view of everything going on at the fest grounds below.

The grills themselves are worth attending SmokeSlam for as they are all super creative–some of them looked like theater stages while others looked like deconstructed pickup trucks! The chefs all have big personalities and love to talk shop, and I was able to bring home some great tips for my own grilling right here on my rooftop in the Big Apple!

Article by anne241

Hardcore NYer who loves to enjoy the good life here in the Big Apple and beyond!