Meat Up at This Weekend's AZ BBQ Festival

I doubt the AZ BBQ Festival will be a one-off event. 

Those guys over at the EaterAZ blog, Rick Phillips and Dave Tyda, have done a bang-up job with organizing and promoting their brand-new culinary festival, which takes place this weekend at the Scottsdale Waterfront. 

I drove by the site yesterday and got a glimpse of the massive setup operations, with huge white tents and a stage transforming that vacant dirt lot behind the Nordstrom's parking lot into a temporary carnivore capitol of the Valley. 

The fest kicks off tonight with a celeb chef-packed VIP dinner ($150), featuring local kitchen luminaries like Beau MacMillan, Silvana Salcido Esparza, Joshua Hebert, Cullen Campbell, James Porter, Aaron May, and others breaking into teams to compete in a gourmet barbecue throwdown with wine pairings. Supposedly a half a ton of meat is involved, too.

Tomorrow's main event, sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbecue Society, runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with more than 50 BBQ teams cooking slow and low for twenty grand in prize money. A portion of the event proceeds will benefit Operation Homefront.

For the ten dollar price of admission (free for kids under 12), there's a lot to enjoy -- a barbecue equipment expo, live music, a beauty pageant, Texas Hold Em, a cocktail competition, green exhibitors, a farmers market, and special activities for kids. BBQ samples from the competitors will run you $2 apiece.

Don't make any plans for Sunday -- I feel a mass food coma coming on.