Thank you for a fantastic 2016! We will begin announcing our 2017 Festival dates in August

2017 World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest

May 17-20, 2017

Join us in 2017 for the most smoke-filled weekend of your life. America's most prestigious barbecue cooking competition is back in Tom Lee Park and celebrating the legacy of its 40th year in Memphis, TN. Come get BBQ'D with us! Purchase your #WCBCC17 tickets here!

What You Need to Know

The team application process for the 2017 World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest is open and tickets can be purchased here!

The World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest will take place rain or shine. If severe weather should arise, refer to the WCBCC Facebook page for immediate information.

World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest Map


  • Tickets can be purchased here.
  • All patrons must have a ticket regardless of age. Tickets are good for the dates specified only.
  • A photo I.D. is required for will-call.
  • No refunds, rain checks or exchanges. Tickets are good for the dates specified only.
  • Admission to Tom Lee Park is first-come, first-served.

Travel and Lodging

Finding your way to Memphis and your way around the festival grounds is easy. World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest takes place in downtown Memphis, Tennessee in Tom Lee Park a 33-acre park on the banks of the Mississippi River located on Riverside Drive between Beale Street and Georgia Avenue.

For lodging accommodations, directions to Memphis, parking and other transportation options, please visit the travel page.

Discover Memphis

For information about what's going on in Memphis, visit DowntownMemphis.com or MemphisTravel.com.


Inquires for patrons with Disabilities? See Accessibility Information.

For Your Safety

  • If Tom Lee Park reaches capacity, for the sake of crowd safety and enjoyment, Memphis in May International Festival, Inc. reserves the right to refuse admission unless a patron has a ticket purchased in advance.
  • All packages and bags are subject to inspection.
  • Photo I.D.'s are required for all alcohol purchases.
  • Memphis in May International Festival, Inc. and its employees, officers and sponsors assume no liability for injury sustained by ticket holders at this event.
  • Memphis in May International Festival, Inc. reserves the right to refuse admission or to eject any person violating rules; local, state and federal laws; or whose conduct is deemed illegal, disorderly, dangerous or offensive.

Food and Drink

All food must be purchased with cash. ATMs are available at Tom Lee Park for your convenience. A photo I.D. is required for all alcohol purchases.

Frequently Asked Questions

The team application process for the 2017 World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest is open and tickets can be purchased here!

Where is World Championship Barbecue Cooking Competition?

World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest is held at Tom Lee Park, a 30-acre sprawling park on the banks of the Mississippi river in Downtown Memphis, Tennessee. Tom Lee Park is approachable by car from I-55 and I-240.

I can purchase BBQ from teams, right?

This is a competition. Local health regulations prohibit teams from serving barbecue to the general public. There are barbecue vendors, as well as other food vendors that sell food to the public. Other food and beverages can be purchased through different on-site vendors.

So is there any way to eat the BBQ then?

The general public has access to taste AND judge barbecue from the teams competing by purchasing a ticket for the Kingsford Tour of Champions. This unique judging experience gives anyone the chance to sample barbecue, listen to teams explain their craft and get a tour inside several competition tents. Typically we also have several championship teams vending.

Are there any more BBQ experiences?

The Cooker Caravan is a free tour and gives the general public an intimate view of the barbecue contest and competing teams. The Cooker Caravan behind-the-scenes tour includes information on how the world’s best barbecue cooking teams produce prize-winning barbecue, a chance to see a variety of specialty grills and smokers and tips on how to improve backyard grilling. The Cooker Caravan departs every 30 minutes from its tent in the middle of the park (see map for precise location).

What should I leave at home?

Do not bring: beverages, bicycles, cans, containers, coolers, food, glass bottles, laser pointers, lawn chairs, over-sized umbrellas, pets, roller blades, roller skates, water guns, weapons or thrown objects (baseballs, footballs, frisbees, etc.).

How do I purchase tickets?

Tickets for the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest can be purchased here.

Can I purchase tickets at the gate?

Yes, general admission tickets may be purchased at the gate at Tom Lee Park.

Where can I park?

See a map of parking garages and lots in Downtown Memphis here.

What ages are allowed to attend World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest?

All ages are welcome at World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, however there is no age-based discount available. All patrons must pay the same ticket price.

What happens if it rains?

The World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest will be presented rain or shine.

Are refunds, rain checks or exchanges available?

Unfortunately, we cannot offer refunds, rain checks or exchanges.

Are cabs available?

Cab stands are located on the north and south ends of the park. Should you need a cab, we recommend calling Premier Transportation at (901) 577-7700.

Do I need cash?

Most purchases can be made with cash or credit. ATMs are available at the park for your convenience.

Where is First Aid located?

First Aid stations are located in the north and center of Tom Lee Park. The stations are serviced by medical personnel through an agreement with EMHC (Emergency Mobile Health Care of Memphis.) Should you need emergency medical treatment, please go to the First Aid Stations or contact a member of security. Personnel are not allowed to dispense medications.

Where is Lost and found?

Lost & Found is located at the Police Compound in the North section of Tom Lee Park during event hours. During off hours, please call 901-525-8711.

Is WCBCC wheelchair accessible?

Tom Lee Park is wheelchair accessible. Please be aware that the grounds are for the most part natural terrain, so if it should rain there will be mud in some places.

Memphis in May does not provide personal care, golf cart rides, or push service. We also do not rent wheelchairs. Please come prepared. Viewing areas for patrons with mobility disabilities, plus one companion, are located on stage right at all main stages and the entry ramps are accessible from the sidewalk. The platforms have limited capacity and are available on a first-come, first-served basis. To provide unobstructed lines of sight to the stage, patrons in the wheelchair platform area will be asked to sit during the performance and folding chairs will be available on a first-come, first serve basis. Accessible portalets are available at each of the portalet areas and are marked on the map in the event program..

Are pets allowed?

Pets are not allowed. Service animals that are trained to assist an individual with a disability are allowed on the grounds of Tom Lee Park provided the animal does not pose a danger or threat to other service animals or patrons. Owners of service animals are responsible for the animal’s personal care. For entry into the events with a service animal, please bring your certificate and place the service animal in the appropriate vest to identify the animal. Service animals must be under the control of their owners at all times and must be on a leash at all times.

Where is the best place to get up-to-date, accurate weather information?

Visit Memphisweather.net for weather updates, radar coverage, graphics, statistics and more! Memphisweather.net is the official weather partner of the Memphis in May International Festival.

Any other tips to enjoy WCBCC?

Be aware that all bags and purses are subject to search. Don't forget to wear comfortable shoes as well, the park is nearly a mile from end to end.

America's Premier .2K Run

Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, known around the globe for its fierce competitiveness from among the world’s most formidable competitors, will host the 3rd Annual Big Hog Run in 2017. This event addresses the increasing popularity of running events and serves as a grand opening kick-off to #WCBCC17.

2016 Concessions


Bourbon St. chicken with beans and rice, fries, smoked sausage, smokehouse chops, bacon bomber, fried pickles, fried cheese, crawfish boil.


All your island favorites under one roof. 


Burgers, fries, sides and more!


Grilled cheese, mac & cheese, philly cheesesteaks, veggie wraps and more! 


Pepperoni, apple peanut butter, cheddar jalapeno, chicken bacon ranch, bbq pulled pork, and more!


Regular or foot long pronto pup.


BBQ sandwich, bologna, or nachos, smoked sausage and spiral potatoes.


Don't miss a single minute of the fun-filled pig mania on the Main Stage! From the hilarious Ms. Piggie Idol competition on Thursday nights, to the Friday and Saturday night Awards Ceremonies, to the live entertainment, you'll be squealing all the way home.

All entertainment events and awards take place on the Cattlemen's Main Stage.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Ms. Piggie Idol

Thursday, May 14, 6 p.m. - 7 p.m.

Imagine grown men dressed in tutus and snouts, parading around the stage and "singing" familiar songs with barbecue-infused lyrics involving pork, grilling and more. It's an event you have to see to believe.

Nancy Apple

Thursday, May 14, 8:30 p.m.

Blackjack Billy

Thursday, May 14, 9:20 p.m.

Influenced by great harmony bands like The Beatles, Doobie Brothers, Eagles and Alabama, a touch of Garth Brooks and James Taylor, along with a generous helping of the Stones, Blackjack Billy have developed a sound they’ve coined “Redneck Rock,” a brand of country music that is uniquely their own.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Ancillary Awards

Friday, May 15 at 6:30 p.m.

Drivin 'n Cryin

Friday, May 15, 8:10 p.m.

Dubbed the "Real Rock Folk Alt-Country Punk Jam," the hard-rocking, Southern roots music-steeped Drivin' n' Cryin' have reigned supreme in the region during their tenure, being dubbed the "The Real Rock Folk Alt-Country Punk Jam."

Saturday, May 14, 2016

World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest 2015 Awards

Saturday, May 16, 6:30 p.m.

Biz Markie

Saturday, May 16, 8:00 p.m.

The legendary Biz Markie brings more than 26 years of solid hip-hop acumen and an overwhelming fan-base that stretches from New York City to Japan to Europe.

Every year, hundreds of teams compete for over $111,000 in prizes and supreme bragging rights. Teams adorn their areas with elaborate decoration, trophies attesting to their boasting rights, and as one can imagine, clever and creative team names. While grilling is the main theme, the contest wouldn't be complete without WCBCC staples like the Ms. Piggie Idol, Best Booth Competition, Best Shirt Design and more. Come join our barbecue family this year!

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