The top pitmasters in the southeastern United States are among dozens of teams competing in the 11th annual Suncoast BBQ & Bluegrass Bash.
The pitmasters will compete in Southwest Florida’s largest barbecue competition March 28 at the Venice Airport Festival Grounds. On two occasions, the Bash has hosted the state championships in Venice.
This year, 40 to 50 professional teams will compete in the event that is sanctioned by the Florida BBQ Association. The Bash has also been recognized as one of the best BBQ events in the state. Up for grabs is $20,000 and qualification for The Jack Daniels, Smithfield National Championship and The American Royal World championships.
Bash Founder Don Fisher said the BBQ contest brings some of the best professional BBQ teams from around the world to compete in several categories.
Part of what makes Venice special is that spectators can buy samples of the world-class barbecue that the pitmasters cook up: chicken, ribs, pork, and beef brisket.
Some of the top teams include Jack’s Old South, Big Papa’s Kitchen, Swamp Boys BBQ, Hot Wachulas, Blitzkrieg BBQ, Pig-Chicka Cow-Cow and Sweet Smoke Q.
The Bash is a qualifying event for the Jack Daniels World Championships. The winner gets an invitation to the national cookoff in Lynchburg, Tennessee. To compete in The Jack, domestic teams must win a championship with at least 25 teams or a competition of 50 teams or win one of the premier barbecue competitions in the U.S., according to http://www.jackdanielsbarbecuemedia.com/.
The Bash is also home to one of the best bluegrass concerts in the area. Three of the top national bands on the bluegrass circuit will perform: The Grascals, Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out and Lonesome River Band. Swinging Bridge, a popular Venice-area band, kicks off the free entertainment at 11 a.m.
The event benefits the Suncoast Foundation and the Bash is the signature fund-raiser for the Suncoast Foundation for Handicapped Children plus funding many area nonprofit organizations that participate. Each year, charities supported by the Foundation serve more than 5,000 children and families with disabilities.