The people of Park Avenue in beautiful, historic uptown Hot Springs, have started a series of festivals to show what Park Avenue has to offer to locals, as well as tourists. This series is called Summerfest Uptown. It is held the second Saturday of each month, with each month having a specific theme. The theme for May is The Great Park Avenue BBQ Cookoff.

Taking place at 315 Park Avenue, at the Tower of Strength Ministries ( the old Vapors), the cookoff will be held May 9th. Teams will compete in three catagories, ribs, chicken thighs, and an “anything but” category ( anything but ribs or chicken thighs, cooked on the grill), and a crowd favorite will also be crowned. This is a non-sanctioned event, but for anyone who has ever had thoughts of starting the bbq competition trail, this competition is perfect. We have an outstanding panel of judges for this year’s competition that includes Dr. Randy HillSouthern Krunk BBQChef Angela Nix, Head Chef of Superior Bathhouse and Brewery; Chef Trey Brunk, Exchange Culinary Group and Surfas Culinary DistrictMichael Dampier, Seasoned BBQ judge with years of judging all over the south, and Michael Roberts, Food critic/writer for Eat Arkansas and editor of Arkansas Food and Farm magazine.

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Last year’s event was held in October, and fun was had by all who attended. The results were very close. First and second place in the ribs were separated by 1/10th of a point. That just fuels the fire for this year’s competitors. There is still plenty of time to sign up, with the deadline for entries being May 8th. Entry fee is only $50. Those who would like to enter a team can copy and print the entry form, statement of liability, and rules from the competition’s Facebook page. Forms can also be obtained by sending a request to nxtlvlbbq@gmail.com. In Hot Springs, just swing by Hot Springy Dingy, at 409 Park Avenue.