Named as Harford County’s “Best Event” 2012 – 2016, the MD State BBQ Bash is a barbecue themed street festival featuring the Maryland State BBQ Championship. It is a free event in Bel Air, MD, which is held annually. The activities were both Friday and Saturday 9th & 10th in downtown.
Per their website - In addition, more than 40 amateur teams will compete in the MD State BBQ Bash Tailgate Challenge to see who has the best ribs while competing for cash, prizes, and bragging rights. For more than 10 years, the MD State BBQ Bash has grown to be one of the largest, most fun, and most anticipated events of the year in Downtown Bel Air. This event is the largest fundraising effort for the Bel Air Downtown Alliance and 100% of the proceeds benefits the mission and is reinvested locally.
I went to the very first one, but I've missed it every other year. I decided to go at kickoff, which is 4pm on Friday. I'm not one for crowds, but really didn't want to miss the fun.
Friday at the start, parking was already crazy in the area. By 6pm, when I left, the place was really starting to fill up. The lines for food were huge. I can only imagine how bad it would have been once the larger crowds showed up. The day was super hot. There were very few places to get out of the sun. The event was set up as 3 separate areas. The exhibit/booth area, the main area with band and largest food sellers, and the smaller teams.
To accommodate all of the crowds, they blocked off roads and had several officers in the area. I do feel that the police department did a great job in securing the event and especially as hot as it was. There was also parking and shuttle to the event from the local high schools. They were using metal detectors to most people as they came in and were watching for people who might have had too much to drink. Overall, it was well run and quite a nice event. The exhibits/booths had a bunch of really interesting options. I could have shopped there for quite a while.
The music was very loud, but the band was good. I was only there for a little bit Friday. I had friends who attended Saturday to confirm that at least two of the Saturday bands were good also. Could barely hear the people I was with though. It would have been better if the speakers hadn't been so loud.
The beer tent was not worth it. $5 tickets and you get one drink. The sangria I got was nice, but not worth $5. I know some people really enjoy their drinks though. There were several who went back for many more. My sister in law was volunteering with the company she works for at the beer tent - checking IDs.
The food smelled amazing. I was trying to avoid it, but I did end up eventually getting to try some BBQ. I wish the lines had been shorter, or that there were more options, so that the few options in the main area weren't so busy. It was hard to find the Amateur section. I don't know if they were selling their food or not. Perhaps another option would have been to have better signage to help people go to those places to buy.