Grillin’ for Grads, a Barbecue Adventure, Returns This Saturday

A lot of food events in Shreveport-Bossier are simple, self-explanatory and easy to enjoy. At Mudbug Madness, you eat crawfish. At CORK, you drink wine. Grillin’ for Grads, a barbecue cook-off presented by the folks who organize Holiday in Dixie, takes a little more effort to understand and enjoy, but folks who make that effort are rewarded with an afternoon-long barbecue adventure of epic proportions.

Grillin’ for Grads (also known as the Ark-La-Tex Ambassadors BBQ Cook-Off) returns to Festival Plaza in downtown Shreveport this Saturday, April 8, and I’m here to tell you: It is worth putting in a little extra effort to enjoy this event. Especially if you’re a barbecue aficionado with a big appetite and a pair of loose-fitting pants.

For starters, I should mention that the event technically begins on Friday night, April 7, with a public concert by The Hubcaps. The concert begins at 7 p.m. and admission is $10. The majority of the event, however, takes place on Saturday. There’s a kids’ cook-off in the morning, which still has a few spaces open for aspiring young grill masters, and the main event begins at 12:15 p.m. The main event, in this case, amounts to a window of about two and a half hours during which you can wander up to dozens of tents and tables and say: “Do y’all have a people’s choice award entry? If so, I wanna eat it.”

A photo of an inflatable pig
Eric the Pink Pig, the mascot of Grillin’ for Grads, greets visitors to Festival Plaza in 2015.

That’s all you’ve got to do: approach a stranger and ask them for barbecue. It’s a little awkward the first time around, but it gets easier. I’ve eaten some of the best whole hog-style pulled pork, the most perfectly spiced ribs and impossibly tender and smoky chicken thighs of my lifetime at this event. Once you’ve eaten all of the barbecue you can handle, you cast your vote for the people’s choice award.

Admission to Grillin’ for Grads is $10. Gates open at 12:15 p.m. and most teams who are serving items for the people’s choice award competition will have their act together and be serving food by 12:30 p.m. If I’m not mistaken (there’s no schedule on the official event website), people’s choice award tastings are all wrapped up by 3 p.m. That leaves you, barbecue lover, with two hours to devour as much artfully smoked ‘cue as you can. Oh, and the best part? Funds raised by this event benefit a college scholarship program for high school students in Shreveport-Bossier.

RSVP to the official Grillin’ for Grads event on Facebook.
For a complete calendar of annual events in Shreveport-Bossier, download the Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau’s 2017 Festivals and Annual Events Guide.

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