Montana BBQ Cook-off is back

Thursday, June 10, 2021
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Thousands of BBQ lovers will descend upon Absarokee this weekend for the mouthwatering tastes and smells of the Montana Barbeque Cook-off.

Competitors from all over the country are drawn to the Kansas City Barbeque qualifying event where all will be vying for a ticket to the national American Royal competition and the Jack Daniels International Draw.

“It’s a great event for our community. It brings people together, and I wanted to make sure we keep having it,” said Danelle DeSaveur, who is taking over as event coordinator this year.

DeSaveur has worked behind the scenes for all 18 years of the Montana BBQ Cook-off, managing different branches of the event. She started as the official coordinator for the 2020 cook-off, but the event was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year she’s back, bringing more live music and extended hours.

Music will be heard down Absarokee’s main street Friday night starting at 8:30 p.m. with El Wencho on the stage, a two-man band from Bozeman. Attendees will catch the first whiffs of the smoking BBQ while enjoying the street dancing until 10 p.m.

Three bands are on the docket to play during the Saturday competition with Tanglewood, Everly Brothers Tribute Show and The Bucky Beaver Ground Grippers scheduled from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m.

As of Monday, 26 teams were lined up for the competition, with five teams from Stillwater County. DeSaveur said registration is still open and she hopes to have at least 30 participants by Friday.

The Montana BBQ Cook-Off fills local motels, Airbnbs and other vacation rental properties throughout the county for the week of the event, DeSaveur said.

“Even though the crowd comes for BBQ, our area restaurants, bars and local shops report a tremendous boom in sales,” DeSaveur said.

The event is free, so annual attendance is difficult to gauge, but in past years DeSaveur estimates about 3,500 foodies have enjoyed the sights and sounds of the BBQ cook-off.

Absarokee metalworker Cody Figart has fashioned trophies for all the top smokers.

The grand champion will win $1,500 and free entry to the 2022 competition. The reserve champion will see a $750 prize and free entry to next year’s event.

Those who land third through 10th place in five categories, chicken, ribs, pork, brisket, and open, will receive cash prizes as well.

In 2019, the Parrothead Smokers from South Dakota were crowned the Overall Grand Champion with Wyoming’s Smokin Hot Butts coming in second.

Parrothead Smokers will be returning this year, but DeSaveur said she hasn’t heard back from the 2019 reserve champions.

The public is encouraged to bypass the closed portion of Main Street and park at Absarokee High School. A free shuttle will transport visitors to and from the event.

No pets are allowed at the event.

As of Monday, the National Weather Service predicts sunny skies with 10 mile-perhour winds. The high will be 83 degrees.


• Main Street closed 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

• After 6 p.m. only the main street block between First Interstate Bank and Main Street Commons will be closed until 10 p.m.

• Public vending is 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.

• Judging starts at 12 p.m.

• 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Tanglewood plays

• 4 p . m . a w a r d s a r e announced

• 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Everly Brothers Tribute Show plays

• 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Bucky Beaver Ground Grippers close out the night

For more information contact DeSaveur at (406)328- 6822. Follow the Montana BBQ Cook-off Facebook page for updates.

Teams and food vendors will not be considered official participants until forms, payment and tax information has been verified.