St. Louis Festival Q – Pit Master Heaven

Tuesday September 22, 2015

By Explore St. Louis Guest

Photo Credit: Lou Countryman, West County News Magazine

St. Louis is smoking. Make that smoking and grilling, the reason the greater St. Louis area is now counted among America’s venerated barbeque destinations, joining Memphis and Kansas City to form what’s now called the Barbeque Triangle. The ultimate barbeque trifecta, which strategically places St. Louis as its center, drawing the barbeque faithful to come, compete, taste and experience the barbeque at two of the largest pit master festivals in the state, The Wildwood BBQ Bash and the new Q in the Lou, both held the September 25 weekend.

Two huge BBQ related events in one weekend would have one asking if St. Louis is big enough to support these festivals, especially on the same weekend. Organizers of The Bash and Q in the Lou whole heartily say yes. Each event offers its own diversity and provides a different barbeque experience.

“ There’s room for everyone,” said Frank Schmer, St. Louis BBQ Society president and founder of the Wildwood BBQ Bash, part of the Budweiser BBQ Series. “ The St. Louis barbeque scene continues to grow bigger and bigger each year - more restaurants and more ammeter pit masters – and that’s reflected in the Bash, which began eleven years with only 7 teams competing and about fifty spectators. Last year’s Bash drew over 60,000, and we’re expecting more this year since it has been expanded into three days.”

This year over 100 teams will compete for top honors along with the opportunity for the overall champ to compete in the BBQ World Series, The American Royal in Kansas City. Beyond the competition Bash attendees can count on plenty of great barbeque, cold drinks, a full schedule of live musical entertainment and a chance to share tips and tricks with three- time world barbeque champ and reality TV star of Discovery Channel’s BBQ Pitmasters Myron Mixon.

Q in the Lou launches its inaugural barbeque fest downtown at Soldiers Memorial, which promises more than hard-core competitions.

“We have competitions but they’re only a part of the weekend,” said Mike Emerson, St. Louis’ BBQ maven and owner of Pappy’s Smokehouse who explained how Q in the Lou is designed as a more relaxed event, promoting interaction with the public and barbeque experts – offering a chance to ask questions. “ The Q is something I wanted to here in St. Louis for a longtime. This is an invitation only competition along with an open amateur back yard contest, which makes us different. It’s similar to events in Chicago and New York.”

Q attendees have several options beyond its free general admission events and entertainment. All three days is the VIP Tent, where ticket holders can sample BBQ, enjoy drinks and meet and greet with the celebrity pit masters. Tickets are available online as a first come first serve basic as are those for BBQ MasterClasses, offered on Saturday and Sunday featuring classes on Old School vs New School Brisket , the Ultimate Smoked Turkey, World-Class Ribs and Cooking Whole Hog.

Both events provide a wide assortment of activities to satisfy any barbeque fan or the curious foodie.

“ This weekend is an opportunity to be together and have fun with the public and let everyone know what’s going on in St. Louis and the barbeque world,” said Emerson. It’s a sentiment shared by The BBQ Bash producers and Schmer. “Foodies are the best people on the planet and barbeque people are the best of the foodies.”

Q in the Lou

Location: Downtown St. Louis At Soldiers Memorial

Sept. 25 4-9 p.m, Sept. 26 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. and Sept 27 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Music, food and drinks, BBQ Expo, competitions and barbeque classes and VIP tent options. General admission is free.

11th Annual Wildwood BBQ Bash

Location: Wildwood Town Center

Sept. 25 6 – 10 p.m, Sept. 26, 10 a.m. – 11 p.m. and Sept 27, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Music, food and drink, live music, celebrity chef Myron Mixton, 100 plus teams in competition including Friday’s Dukes Mayo Potato Salad Competition and Saturday night fireworks. Fee shuttles to and from the Bash. Admission is free.

Guest Blogger Suzanne Corbett contributed to this blog.