BBQ and Barrels Fest Returning Bigger and Better than Before

It’s time to get excited about two of our city’s greatest staples because BBQ & Barrels is making a return to downtown Owensboro this spring!

A celebration of our legendary barbecue and some of the best bourbon in the state of Kentucky, BBQ and Barrels is a two-day festival that’ll be held on Friday, May 10 and Saturday, May 11 2024.

For those who grew up going to the International Bar-B-Q Festival, BBQ and Barrels is a rebirth of that classic celebration combined with innovation and new ideas that make this world-famous event bigger and better than ever.

You’ll see some new features at this year’s event, including more BBQ vendors, five church cooking teams, extra art vendors, a larger Baird Private Wealth Management Bourbon Experience at the Owensboro Convention Center, the KY Champions Motorcar Invitational and concerts on the front lawn of the Convention Center. Headliners will be announced on February 5!

You’ll get to taste all the burgoo, mutton, pork and chicken from, not only our famous church cooking teams, but from our local barbecue establishments like Moonlite, Old Hickory, Ole South, Lure Smoke Shack and Brew Bridge as well. On top of that, you can enjoy food, lemonade, ice cream, burgers and buffalo chicken from all your favorite food trucks, with more than 25 setting up shop along Second Street both days.

A Backyard Cook-Off will be held in front of the Owensboro Convention Center, along with a huge stage that’ll provide live music from different bands all weekend long.

For those heading to Owensboro for the bourbon portion of the festival, you can head to the Convention Center for bourbon tasting, unique bourbon classes and the chance to mingle with some of the biggest bourbon producers in the state. Last year’s sold-out ticketed bourbon experience featured more than 30 distilleries offering bourbon samples, and participants got to taste vintage Owensboro barbecue.

This year’s Bourbon Experience will be even more expansive, and ticket holders will get to taste amazing barbecue along with bourbon from more than 35 distillers. Tickets will go on sale February 29. VIP options will be available with the opportunity to try some special offerings from distilleries and food pairings. Bourbon classes and a multi-course dinner and cocktail pairing with Green River Distilling will also be offered on Friday, May 10. 

BBQ and Barrels will kick off at noon on Friday with barbecue from church cooking teams and food vendors, carnival rides and live music. The event will continue into Saturday with the addition of the BBQ 5K, Backyard BBQ Cookoff and the bourbon tasting events inside the Owensboro Convention Center.