The Juiciest Insider Tips for Navigating the American Royal World Series of Barbecue

What you need to know to make the most out of this 4-day festival.
Photos courtesy of American Royal


The nation’s largest barbecue competition gets fired up at the Kansas Speedway on September 13th. The American Royal’s 39th annual World Series of Barbecue runs through Sunday, September 16 and it is THE hot spot for barbecue enthusiasts. Barbecue competition teams from all over the world will be throwing down to see who reigns supreme in the ultimate test of "cueing" skills. So much is going on during this weekend event that 435 has rounded up the best tips for navigating this mega barbecue festival.



Download the American Royal app!

American Royal has created an app for both IOS and Android making it easier to keep up with all the festival activities. Download the app to explore all the events during the festival you don’t want to miss out on.


American Royal IOS App

American Royal has a mobile app for both IOS and Android!



Know which days to go. 

With American Royal catering something for everyone, you might want to curate your festival experience.


American Royal 2018 Schedule

2018 World Series of Barbecue Schedule 


Day 1: Thursday evening will be the perfect night for all poker players and supporters who want to try their luck at playing their best hand.

Day 2: Party into the weekend Friday at the festival with the Budweiser Beer Garden, Taste of KC BBQ event, and VIP experiences such as Party of the Year contest.




Day 3: Saturday is the most family-friendly day consisting of the Kids Que contest allowing junior pitmasters to show off their skills, the Cowtown Family Fun Fest with entertainment such as magic shows, and the KC Auto Museum Car Show. Saturday is the last day for all public events. **American Royal has suggested families with strollers/young children buy tickets in advance and ride the tram into the infield.


Day 4: Sunday winds down the festival to a close with the competition award ceremony.


Cowtown Family Fun Fest





The World Series of Barbecue competition is NOT a food sampling event 

What?! Yes—a shocker, but because barbecue teams will be competing in the open and/or invitational contest they will not be able to provide samples for the public. Barbecue can still be enjoyed at the Taste of KC Barbecue event (**separate ticket must be bought) allowing those with tickets to taste some of the best barbecue in Kansas City from four to eight barbecue vendors. American Royal will also be hosting a marketplace and food vendor area that will not disappoint the barbecue enthusiasts.


American Royal Market Place

Shop all things Barbecue and purchase food from the Prairie Fresh Marketplace 


Eat, drink, and party your way through the festival as a VIP

Make the most out of the festival by participating in VIP Experiences. Here are a few that our insider said you should not miss out on.

Royal Tours: Get a behind-the-scenes tour of what goes on inside the tents of barbecue competitors and taste barbecue from some of the best BBQ pitmasters! You’ll also have the opportunity to interact one-on-one with the teams.


World Series Barbecue

a Specialized experience for true barbecue fans 


The Royal Bourbon Tasting: A don’t-miss event, where you will get to experience bourbon from various brands. This tasting will definitely have you expanding your list of bourbon favorites.

Knob Creek Party of the Year: Be a judge for the biggest and best party of the year! Trust us, these are professionals showing how KC parties. You’ll be the center of attention as each host tries to win over your heart. This is definitely the kind of scene you want to be a VIP in.


Party of the Year Contest

close out the summer with the best parties of the year