The fragrant smoke that has filled the skies above Austin’s Long Center for most of the last 10 years during the Texas Monthly BBQ Fest is drifting south.
The 2022 iteration of the annual festival will take place in Lockhart, home of several top-notch barbecue destinations and a town long considered the Barbecue Capital of Texas.
“I think it’s just overdue to change things up a bit,” Texas Monthly barbecue editor Daniel Vaughn told the American-Statesman. “The biggest impetus for the move was the fact that we wanted to make it more than just a one-event celebration and to do that we needed a bigger venue. And what better venue than the Barbecue Capital of Texas.”
This year’s 13th annual festival will take place over two days, November 5 and 6, which gives the magazine more time and space to celebrate a greater swath of the state’s barbecue community.
The Sunday of the festival will look like previous festivals, with a celebration of the magazine’s Top 50 barbecue joints, while the first day of the festival will have a BBQ World’s Fair theme, an “event featuring experiences and activities that showcase the wide, eclectic world of barbecue, its different aspects and flavors, the array of techniques behind the craft, as well as the people and culture surrounding it,” according to a release.
The idea to expand and relocate the event was inspired in part by 2021’s three-city road-trip version of the festival, which was the first to take place away from Austin in a decade, according to Melissa Reese, director of video and events for Texas Monthly.
“We also had begun to outgrow our previous venue, and when exploring other options in the general Austin area, nothing felt as ‘right’ as our neighbors in Lockhart,” Reese told the American-Statesman in an email. “Relocating the event gives us the opportunity to reimagine what the event had been and expand programming in new and creative ways.”
Vaughn says the new-look festival will honor the magazine’s approach to its regular barbecue coverage and offer a broader view of the barbecue world while rightly bringing more people into the spotlight.
“I do this job full time. I write about barbecue joints all over the state; write about barbecue history; at Texas Monthly we cover barbecue in all facets. And our one big celebration every year that we had honed in on one article that we put out every four years. Granted it’s big, it’s important and we know there’s a lot of attention on it, but there’s a lot more to Texas barbecue than just the 50 joints on that list. And that’s what we wanted to show in our festival and in our barbecue celebration.”
Reese wouldn’t comment on the location of future versions of the magazine’s cornerstone food event, but said Texas Monthly plans “to introduce smaller barbecue events across the state, and in general, hope to extend event opportunities to barbecue fans in many corners of Texas.”
More details about ticketing and event programming for this year’s Texas Monthly BBQ Fest will be released in the near future.