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Texas Monthly BBQ Festival 2014

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Tickets went on sale yesterday for the September 14 event. Apparently the VIP ones sold out in 2 minutes flat.

I'll be visiting your fine city for this. Looking forward to having so much good 'Q in one location!

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      1. re: jwynne2000

        never been, but why is it a scam? seems pretty pricey for AYCE Q but its nice having several great places in the same location.

      2. re: ieathereforeiam

        i guess instead of waiting in line at a bbq joints all around the state you get to wait in lines at one place for an approximation of their bbq.

        i suppose for a tourist that's an attractive offer. but i pity the native that steps foot into that circus.

        1. re: ieathereforeiam

          Approximation is key for me. They're not using the same pits and I wouldn't expect the BBQ to be as good, plus if I read the website correctly it's 80 bucks for kids over five, that's a cool $240 for a family of four, plus drinks. I'd rather do the old Luling/Lockhart swing. I know it's lost its cache since the new Austin places and Snow's, but there's still some mighty fine eating.

          1. re: James Cristinian

            Very true - the fact that it is an 'away game' for most of the pitmasters makes things a little different. The first year they put it on, they had an event at the long center the night before and most of the pitmasters only were able to get their 'cue going after midnight. They have gotten this down now...

            Absolutely true the Luling/Lockhart run is great. And $240 is stiff for a family of 4. But you do get joints from Tyler, West Texas and all over... one of the cool things to do is to taste the way the pecan used in the north-east part of the state vs. oak around here impacts brisket flavor... and how rubs and mops etc impact each.

            And yes, I realize I am biased. My cousin and his wife own and operate Stanley's out of Tyler, so this is why I hope people come and enjoy it, and while it may not be a good value... it may be a good time.

            Pics from 2011 and 2013

            1. re: ieathereforeiam

              I'm just giving my perspective as a tourist and as someone who may be moving to Austin in the near future. I think there's a lot of value to getting that approximation and introduction "on one patio", so to speak. Plus, you get to chat with the owners/pitmasters - it's mighty fine seeing a master at his/her craft in the flesh and blood. It'll expose you to places you might never take a roadtrip just to eat at (at least until you've had a chance to try their stuff). And reviews I've seen of previous years is that the quality of product is quite high despite the away game.

          2. Hope you enjoy your visit. It is a lot of fun and I look forward to going for my fourth time (assisting behind a table of a family joint). It is expensive but I've met folks flying in from all over for it. Re: scam comments. Yes prices are up,and maybe Texas Monthly created a demand that didn't exist before... the BBQ joints provide all the food prep and food with no reimbursement from the festival itself, so the magazine does get a lot out of it. The restaurants get word of mouth and good advertising. I hope they bring back people's choice voting for best items like they had the first two years. But I would argue that If BBQ is your thing, a ticket is cheaper than your gas to visit even 10 of the 20+ joints represented, not to mention the meal price... Enjoy your meat coma!

            3 Replies
            1. re: cpencis

              I thought I saw a groupon or living social deal for this event.

              1. re: cpencis

                Yes, it's impossible to hit up even a majority of the places that are coming without living full-time in Texas and having no other weekend obligations. Some of these places are only open a couple days a week and sell out by 10 a.m. Then you count the gas to get there and back (multiplied by however many trips), and it's exceedingly more expensive and time-consuming.

                $80 for an AYCE food festival is not out of line with other festivals serving this volume of food (the Farm-to-Fork local foods event in Raleigh/Durham NC is $100, the Salute to Charleston Chefs event at the Charleston Wine + Food Festival is $135, and don't evne ask what similar events out here in California cost!). I'm actually surprised this would've been priced lower in year's past. And they keep adding joints.

                The filtering is also impressive. Here you only have the very best BBQ joints in the state. No pretenders. Not many festivals have the cred. to attract all the top places while cutting the not-so-great. TMBBQ is the gold standard of bbq ratings, and all the joints respect that, so if they say, "hey, come on out," the place is going to represent. That's pretty unique cachet and is worth something.

                Again, last year, general admission tickets sold out in one day. This year, the 500 VIP tickets (priced at $145) sold out in 2 minutes flat. Clearly enough people think it's a price worth paying.

                1. re: cpencis

                  sounds like a real labor of love for these mom and pop joints, so i hope texas monthly isn't cashing in. regardless, hope you have fun!

                2. These people will pay over one hundred dollars to stand around and eat for a couple of hours are the same people that will stand in line for hours at Franklin's. I don't get it. Somebody's making a lot of money and if it ain't the BBQ people than who? Count me out.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: ericthered

                    At least you're standing around eating (or sitting under tents) as opposed to standing around waiting. This is the quickest access to Franklin BBQ you'll get all year (a 20-min line at worst), and you could be chowing down on another top 5-caliber's brisket or beef rib while doing so.

                    1. re: mikeh

                      mikeh - I thought I replied to this before, but I do not see it. I hope that you enjoy your time here. I agree with you in that after all the expense to get over here and set up, a couple hundred bucks isn't a bad way to sample TX BBQ. You'd have to spend all weekend driving around just to hit a few. The BBQ people aren't going to put on their B game (not in their genes) - looking at the vid from last year. Also, there's music all day. I'm not going, though, after saying all that. Maybe next year.

                      Are there any other plans that you need help with?

                      1. re: rudeboy

                        I think we're good with other plans for this particular visit. Have had my eye on Austin for quite a while (with designs of moving there which may come to fruition here soon if all goes well). Uchiko and Barley Swine are also on our lineup. Might as well start with a bang!

                        1. re: mikeh

                          Add Odd Duck to that and you will be happy.

                  2. I think Snow's is the only place worth buying a ticket for since getting out there and back could cost $100 if you even manage to get any food.

                    1. Anyone know if they check the name on the ticket for the VIP and/or general admission? Some folks we know won't be able to make it and have VIP tix, but their names are on the ticket and apparently there's a VIP check-in tent organized by last name. Our friends can't recall if they actually check to make sure you're the person on the ticket, or if they're just matching you up to their list w/o looking at your ID...

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: mikeh

                        If they charged all that freaking cash for tickets and didn't let you share them in the event you couldn't make it I would be downright HOT. It's already outrageous.

                      2. Reaaaaallllyyyyy? I am so glad you are coming to our fine city. But trust me; there is soooooo much more here.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: girloftheworld

                          We're here for the weekend visiting friends. Trust me, we're checking out a whole lot more than just this!

                        2. Looks like I was right in not going. Unfortunately, Austin has grown too big for festivals to be fun anymore. Eater Austin's comments just confirmed this.


                          RIP Austin of my fond memories....

                          7 Replies
                          1. re: amysuehere

                            it's easy to get bummed about disappearing austin. But I think the key is avoiding corporate events created for tourists and cedar parkians. especially on weekends.

                            Instead of going to a line festival to eat bbq, an austinite goes to the rodeo bbq cookoff and eats for free. or better yet, a friend has a party and you eat bbq in a backyard, as it was meant to be.

                            You have to realize that we have a home-field advantage and that people are now traveling from points beyond cedar park, like nyc, to wait in line somewhere so they can have the "austin experience".

                            I live by a few key rules and it keeps me sane* and away from the suckas:

                            Never go downtown on a weekend-especially in the evening
                            Go to the new bars/restaurants midweek-not Thurs-Sat
                            Never buy a wristband for SXSW
                            Use Do512.com and go see a band midweek at least once a month
                            Go to Barton Springs more often
                            Never miss an opportunity to tell a tourist the line is worth it
                            Don't go to festivals celebrating something you can do any tuesday (this is widely applicable)

                            I'm probably forgetting some, but my point is- Buck up Amy Sue! This place only sucks if you let the new people ruin it for you.

                            *depends on who you ask

                            1. re: ieathereforeiam

                              Gentrification,Commercialization-ruinization- if there is a buck to made they will fence it off bag it up sell it and it has been happening since the pilgrims wrote home about the great diner they had with the locals.. cherish block parties pot lucks and those informal get together s when you meet up with the people in the next spot over at the lake and share your cooler because they ran out of ice...

                              1. re: ieathereforeiam

                                Luckily, I don't even need to go to Barton Springs. I have a private neighborhood park right on Bull Creek. Not only do we usually have the place to ourselves, we can drink beer, too.

                                Yup. Those are pretty much our rules as well...except we never did get into seeing bands, and I always order take-away at Franklin's to skip the line.

                                1. re: ieathereforeiam

                                  Thanks for looking for silver linings in the thread - It seems to have taken on the qualities of last night's downpour.

                                  Being there at the festival was actually a lot of fun, albeit I was behind a table giving people my cousin's great barbecue and getting nice smiles as I did so. We did have a good number of out-of-town folks who travelled quite a way for the fest, making the fest part of an overall Austin vacation.

                                  The weather was beautiful, music was good, bbq staffs were friendly and happy... yes it was expensive, and there were some long lines, and it's not for everyone... but it wasn't all bad.


                                  1. re: cpencis

                                    ACL was great the first three years. Those chops in your first pic make me hungry right now!

                                  2. re: ieathereforeiam

                                    I like going downtown on the train and maybe taking a cab nearby somewhere. I can tolerate people if the car and parking are removed from the equation. but I'm a communist!

                                    1. re: rudeboy

                                      To add to this with regard to festivals in general, I may be changing my mind. Heard on K-UT today that the "Great Lawn" of Zilker will be cordoned off to prep for ACL, perform the two weekends, and repair. I went to ACL the first three years and had fun, but then it got lame. I think I heard three month's total. I wonder what the average Austinite is getting out of this. They do have decent food there, though. I read in this week's Chronicle that the City Council is considering a proposal for the organizers to increase reimbursement to the City up to 100% of the City's cost.

                                      And SXSW has turned into a Bacchanalian boozefest with little food value.