This weekend four friends, my wife and I drove down to Washington D.C. (it’s only 20 minutes away, it’s not an epic journey) to see the 16th Annual Safeway National Capital BBQ Battle for the first time. One of my friends’ boss had competed in these contests on numerous occasions and always wanted to go, so it was nice to be able to finally find the time to check it out. I can wholeheartedly say that everyone had a great time.
The event takes place on Pennsylvania Ave between what I believe is 9th and 13th, if not farther, and the entire place is just bumpin’ with activities, vendors, and fun. I took a bunch of pictures which I’ll upload in a bit but overall the experience was a great time.
As soon as we walked in we got in line for the Safeway Sampling tent. The tent is huge with easily twenty various vendors giving out samples of steak, chicken, hot dogs, juices, drinks, cookies, chips, salsas, sauces, etc. The line was huge and we easily waited an hour and the samples were OK, they were of commercially available products. It would’ve been awesome to get BBQ samples.
At the end of the tent is where the demonstrations take place. After getting through the samples, we watched Virginia Willis, author of Bon Appetit, Y’All: Recipes and Stories from Three Generations of Southern Cooking, give a cooking demonstration. She prepared a great steak salad, a onion confit, and a nice brownie (we picked up the recipe cards). It was delicious and definitely a nice treat.
After leaving the tent, we started walking the grounds. There were a ton of vendors, many of which seemed a little out of place for BBQ battle. Wii Fit was there (the girls loved playing it) as well as Honda, Geico, and several other large corporations. As we walked further down we started seeing some major barbecue product vendors include Char-Broil. We saw that they were talking about the The Big Easy oil-less fryer. We walked up to the presenter during some down time, he was this huge guy who said he played in the NBA DL (which was totally plausible), and we talked up the Big Easy to some people watching. Afterwards, he hooked us up with some t-shirts and coozies to help keep our drinks cold.
As we kept walking (the event was huge, totally worth the $10 ticket price), we finally started seeing the trucks and rigs of all the competition teams. It was unreal the size of these things, you knew these folks were serious about barbecue! At a couple trucks, despite their signs of “no samples,” they were giving away some samples of their goods and it was delicious.
Overall, the event was a lot of fun. There was so much activity and so much excitement that we were truly blown away. What helped was that the temperatures weren’t too hot and that there were plenty of sports drink samples from Gatorade and Snapple to keep you hydrated if you didn’t feel like water or beer.
I’ll post pictures and more discussion later on this week but I definitely see myself going back next year.