Lexington's celebration of western-style barbecue is back. (Image via Lexington Barbecue Festival) Lexington Barbecue Festival
Lexington's celebration of western-style barbecue is back. (Image via Lexington Barbecue Festival)

One of North Carolina’s most respected traditions returns for its 38th year. Here’s what you need to know about this celebration of western-style barbecue.

Barbecue is a tradition in North Carolina. And the Lexington Barbecue Festival is a respected part of that tradition.

On Saturday, the festival, now in its 38th year, returns to Lexington with family fun, music, and all the Lexington-style – or “western” style — barbecue you can eat. For those not in the know, that’s pork shoulder, often dressed with a red sauce blend of vinegar, tomatoes and red pepper flakes.  

Davidson County has dedicated the whole month to their brand of barbecue, featuring “a golf tournament, a fishing tournament, and the Hawg Run-5K.

The festival has traditionally been held on one of the last two Saturdays of October, and this year it will be hosted on Saturday, Oct. 22 from 8:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. on Main Street in Uptown Lexington. 

Here are 5 things to know about the festival.

Free Admission 

While you’ll need to bring along some money for food and drinks, admission to the festival is FREE. 

As for parking, there are lots around the festival’s perimeter that charge a daily fee, or you can take a shuttle ($3 for adults, $2 for children) from Childress Vineyards. 

It’s More Than Barbecue

Barbecue is the draw, but Lexington didn’t stop there. This year’s festival has a full day of activities and entertainment. There will be live music across six stages starting at 9:30 a.m., and a closing Grand Finale Concert at the Breeden Amphitheater from 6-9 p.m.

For those 21+, you can sit back and enjoy the music from the Amphitheater Stage at the Cork & Craft Hospitality Garden. There are several participating vineyards and breweries such as Old Homeplace Vineyards and Goose and the Monkey Brew House. 

The Barbecue Festival will also host an antique car cruise-in, a blood drive, and an interactive dinosaur show! 

Arrive by Train or Plane 

Not local and don’t want to drive? Not a problem. 

Trains originating from Raleigh and Charlotte will transport you to the Barbecue Festival in style. These trains are making their annual trip to Lexington, and will stop in multiple locations in between to pick up as many passengers as possible!

You can also arrive in style with Fly High Lexington, an aerial shuttle from the Davidson County Airport! 

Trying to Go Green

The Barbecue Festival has made moves to get greener over the past few years, and continues to promote and support environmental awareness, organizers say.

This year all Pepsi products will be sold in 20 oz. bottles, with officials encouraging all bottles and recyclable materials to be dropped in the many recycling stations. 

Barbecue Trivia 

In 1984, the first Barbecue Festival drew in 30,000 people and cooked 3,000 pounds of barbecue.

Ten years later the crowd exceeded 100,000 people and required more than 11,000 pounds of barbecue.

In 2014, the city hosted the largest festival to date, with an attendance of more than 200,000 people, and they are expecting record-breaking crowds in 2022.