Preview: The 4th Annual Dana Point State BBQ Championships

Posted: October 3, 2014 in Bacon, Beer, Events, Food, Orange County
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The 4th Annual Dana Point State BBQ Championships returns to Sea Terrace Park (33501 Niguel Rd, Dana Point, CA 92629) this Saturday from 10am to 5pm. Over a hundred teams of Grill Masters from across the country gather here to serve up the finest BBQ visitors will ever taste, as these maestros of meat compete for cash, prizes, titles, and bragging rights. Free to attend for all ages, visitors can purchase sample tickets for $2, with all proceeds going towards the VFW charity, and use those tickets to exchange for samples from any of the participants. Visitors will find all sorts of BBQ meats here, from pulled pork to ribs to brisket to bacon and more. A true test to the home Grill Master, this competition does not allow anything corporate to set foot in this area – only amateur or local groups could enter, and all foods come from non-corporate sources, such as locally-raised meat or homemade BBQ sauces.

As a free and all-ages event, visitors should definitely prepare themselves properly for this event. Limited free parking exists at a lot sectioned off of Ritz Carlton Dr, with a tunnel that leads to the park. Most guests should seek the overflow parking at Dana Hills High School, and take a free shuttle that will ferry visitors to and from the two sites. Please bring plenty of cash, as nobody will accept credit or debit, and I do not recall if I saw an ATM here last year. This event takes place purely outdoors on a very hot day with minimal shade, so dress appropriately, have sunscreen available, and remain hydrated. As a public park, visitors may bring their pets to the event – I advise anyone doing so to remain courteous, never lose sight of your pets, and keep your pets close to you.

Beyond the BBQ area, visitors would find an entire second half to the fest, filled with more booths to check out. From merchandise vendors to service providers to other food vendors to the kids’ activities center and more, visitors can fall back to this second half when in need of a break from consuming all that BBQ meat. For the adults, a row of craft beer & wine booths, featuring some of the country’s favorite breweries & wineries, will establish itself across from the music stage. Small 4oz beer pours cost $2 each, while large 12oz beer pours cost $6, and visitors can walk freely around the festival with drinks in hand.

The BBQ area covers a wide expanse of Sea Terrace Park, allowing for over a hundred entrants to set up and grill up their finest meats. A regular visitor may feel overwhelmed at the available choices, and will want to try everything. Like any sort of festival like this, it helps to have a plan going into it. Doing prior research may leave a visitor empty-handed, as the website does not list the names of all the entrants. Instead, for a BBQ festival like this, it helps to look for key words among all the participants, based on what you desire. In my situation, I sought anyone with a good cut of brisket, especially end cuts or burnt ends. Anyone with candied bacon also stood out to me, so I prioritized those two items. Last year, I ended up sampling the following:

I had liked Twisted Brisket‘s Brisket Ends so much that I wanted to return to them to use the last of my sample tickets to get them again. However, they had run out of ends by the time I returned, so I settled for regular brisket, plus some candied bacon that they had just finished preparing.

Information Page
Competition Results

The Dana Point State BBQ Championships has everything that food fans will love. With this much tantalizing meat around, the scent would drive anyone crazy enough to crave more. By opening up the competition to the rest of the country, the organizers ensure inviting only the best of the best not only to compete for the prizes, but to serve the visitors the best of BBQ to keep them coming back for more. By making admission free, this gives visitors the freedom to explore at their leisure, and only buy as much as they want to consume. With Fall having just started, this may motivate you to get out there and grill something up for yourself, friends, family, or more.


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