Carolina BBQ Festival 2024: Pitmasters Collaborate for Charity

Carolina BBQ Festival 2024 celebrates whole hog barbecue and the Carolinas’ rich barbecue traditions. It’s also an opportunity for the region’s tight-knit family of pitmasters to collaborate and support charity.

Carolina BBQ Festival 2024 logo.

The third annual installment is April 5-6 at Victoria Yards. This year’s festival promises more flavor diversity, fanfare, and excitement than ever before. Included in the 17-day Charlotte Shout, Carolina BBQ Festival is a perfect addition to the spotlight on art, music, food, and ideas in Queen City’s uptown.

And if last year was any indication, expect the Carolina BBQ Festival 2024 to be a lively mix of yesterday and today. It is a combination of classically trained cookery and daring entrepreneurs alongside families with traditions passed down generations. Whole hog, pulled pork shoulder, Texas brisket, smoaked pastrami … beef birria tacos? Smoked shrimp ceviche?

All those flavors tickled festival-goers’ tastebuds a year ago. Expect just as much variety in a bigger location for 2024. Stay tuned to The Low & Slow Barbecue Show Blog and Instagram page for event announcements – including the music line-up for this year’s Carolina BBQ Festival.

Want to attend – at a discount? Visit the Carolina BBQ Festival’s ticket site, and use promo code lowslowbbq to save money on festival passes.

Ringleaders of the Carolina BBQ Event

Like the gamut of samples on the festival menu, festival pitmasters each bring a unique flavor to the Carolinas’ culinary landscape. That’s why The Low and Slow Barbecue Show partnered with the Carolina BBQ Festival to create the Pitmasters Series of podcasts in 2023. It spotlights the men and women who make the barbecue happen

We’re excited to partner with the festival for the second year to share the stories of the pitmasters behind the best barbecue in the U.S. Leading up to this year’s festival, we’ll be publishing podcasts with this year’s participants. Tune in to hear their stories and get a glimpse into their barbecue world.

Listen to The Low & Slow Barbecue Show’s 2023 interviews for a festival warm-up. Start at the beginning with Episode 1 of the 2023 Pitmasters series for a festival overview from its founder, Lewis Donald. He’s the owner and pitmaster at Sweet Lew’s BBQ in Charlotte’s Belmont neighbohood. Keep reading for links to our 2023 on-the-scene interviews with other pitmasters.

First, let’s highlight the pitmasters on the menu for Carolina BBQ Festival 2024 and the charities this year’s festival will support.

Pitmasters for Carolina Barbecue Festival 2024

This year’s pitmaster line-up features familiar faces from the event’s first two years. Some newcomers to the scene promise to bring their unique angle.  

Carolina BBQ Festival 2024 shares a variety of briskets for tasting.
BBQ festival goers will enjoy a variety of BBQ flavors, like these briskets from County Smoak and Jon G’s.

Follows is a list of this year’s participating pitmasters. Click their names to access more information about their business. You’ll find out when and where you can go to sample their full menu of barbecue goodness.

“These are people that I met along the way who are like-minded,” festival founder Lewis Donald told me last year. “They are all special in their own way to me as a person. Some of them are smaller businesses that need a good platform. Carolina BBQ Festival gives you that.”

Among them are some of the best chefs in the United States – at least according to the James Beard Foundation, Texas Monthly, and others who know about food.

Plus, this year’s festival welcomes Crystal Coast Oysters in case mouth-watering barbecue isn’t for you.

#BBQforaCause Fuels the Festival

Festival founder Lewis Donald started the event to support his community.

“One of my biggest goals has always been to give back, and that is not always easy as a small business owner,” he told me before last year’s Carolina BBQ Festival. “What I’ve done is try to enlist a bunch of friends to help me give back to our communities.”

Over the past two years, the festival has raised more than $22,000, donated to various charities that feed and support our communities. The 2024 charities make sure food is available during times of need or provide life-changing scholarships to families of fallen or disabled U.S. military members and first responders.

Operation Barbecue Relief

Operation Barbecue Relief has provided over 11 million meals throughout the United States and internationally following natural disasters, COVID-19 response, and through the Always Serving Project.

Folds of Honor

Since 2007, Folds of Honor has provided life-changing scholarships to spouses and children of fallen and disabled U.S. military members. That mission expanded to the families of the nation’s first responders.

Hungry Heroes

Hungry Heroes shows gratitude for the services of first responders, military personnel, and veterans by providing barbecue. Hungry Heroes holds dozens of events nationwide yearly to raise awareness, respond to community tragedy, and “spread love through a little smoke and sauce.”

Support these charities by attending the 2024 Carolina Barbecue Festival April 5-6 at Victoria Yards in Charlotte. Use promo code lowslowbbq for a discount on one- and two-day festival passes.

Festival Features Two Days of Food & Entertainment

The menu of activities on April 5-6 offers food, fun, and an opportunity to support #BBQforaCause at an affordable rate. Be advised: the festival sells out each year as organizers limit attendance to avoid long wait lines at tasting stations.

Carolina BBQ Festival 2024 is a family affair full of BBQ variety and sides.
Carolina BBQ Festival 2024 is family friendly. Children under age 10 enter free.

Friday, April 5, starts the festival with a charity dinner and concert. Operation BBQ Relief and Hungry Heroes will feed the audience. So will a live crawfish boil. Expect craft beer, cocktails, and wine for purchase. A surprise music headliner ensures the night is a festive atmosphere around the barbecue pitmasters while they prepare their entrees for Saturday’s unlimited food tastings.

Saturday, April 6, is the day-long affair that offers a chance to visit and enjoy 15 pitmasters serving whole hog, brisket, chicken, Lexington-style chopped pork BBQ hash, and seafood. Look for a few surprises, too, including unique sides with the tastings. Live music fills the air throughout the day, while vendor activities promise plenty of action away from the food tastings.

Single-day tickets are available, while VIP options offer extra perks for Saturday: early admission, a $20 merch voucher, designated VIP area and VIP bar, two drink tickets, oysters on the half shell, and complimentary bottled water. Get the full VIP experience to enjoy both days and special pricing.

Visit CarolinaBBQFest.org for pricing and to reserve your tickets. The festival is family-friendly, and children under age 10 are admitted free.

Appetizers Before the BBQ Festival Main Course

The Low & Slow Barbecue Show partners with the Carolina BBQ Festival to share the stories of the men and women who stoke the barbecue fire. Last year, we joined the festival on-site and talked with several participants.

Click the links below to hear their stories.

Look for our 2024 Carolina Pitmasters series featuring Brandon Shepard, Dylan Cooke, Elliott Moss, Joel Easton, Keith Henning, Ronald Simmons, and others. Get every episode delivered to you starting in February. Follow The Low & Slow Barbecue Show on your favorite place for streaming, including Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, and Amazon Music.

If you like what you hear? Please give us a five-star rating and share The Low & Slow Barbecue Show with your friends. Be sure to follow The Low & Slow Barbecue Show on Instagram for photos of the people and the food that make Charlotte’s best annual barbecue festival a success.

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