BBQ Throw Down to Feature BBQ, Classic Cars, Tours and More

Eastern Carolina BBQ Throw Down trophies. Source: City of Rocky Mount NC. Credit: Garry Hodges.
Eastern Carolina BBQ Throw Down trophies. Source: City of Rocky Mount NC. Credit: Garry Hodges.

By Tameka Kenan-Norman, City of Rocky Mount NC

The 10th annual Eastern Carolina BBQ Throw Down will be held on the lawn of the Helen P. Gay Rocky Mount Historic Train Station Friday, October 13, 2017, from 5pm to 8:30pm and Saturday, October 14, 2017, from 10:30am to 6pm. The weekend of festivities will include a BBQ competition, the third annual home brew competition, a classic car show and competition, food vendors, two stages of live entertainment, children’s activities, tours of Rocky Mount and much more.

Sanctioned by the Kansas City BBQ Society, this year’s BBQ competition will include over 50 cook teams from throughout the east and more than 60 certified judges. There will be four categories in the competition, including chicken, ribs, pork and beef brisket.

The BBQ competition, open to any BBQ professional, will result in a Grand Champion winning a prize of $5,000. According to Susan Phelps, special events coordinator for the city of Rocky Mount, aside from the Grand Champion, there are additional opportunities to win cash and prizes.

“By the end of the BBQ Throw Down, over $20,000 will be awarded to participants, because there are 53 opportunities to win,” says Phelps. “A favorite contest of attendees is the People’s Choice Award where the public gets to participate through purchased ballots. This contest will be held on Saturday, October 14, 2017, from 1:15pm to 3:30pm.”

The ballots are purchased with BBQ Bucks, which go on sale at 12 p.m. Saturday under the festival tent. Proceeds from the sale of the BBQ Bucks will support the Nash County Special Olympics.

Now in its third year, the Eastern Carolina Home Brew Competition, sponsored by Rocky Mount Mills, will also take place during the festivities. The Grand Prize winner will receive a hand-blown glass trophy, $200 and the title of “Best in the East.” Phelps says that with all the positive response to last year’s competition, they are expecting even more this year.

“Last year, the competition was wonderful, and we really look forward to great things again this year,” says Phelps. “We will also have the beer garden again with some amazing North Carolina brews.”

Classic car enthusiasts will love the Hogs & Hot Rods Cruise-In, a new addition to this year’s BBQ Throw Down. Registration is $5 and begins at 11 a.m. Contestants may enter the festival grounds via Nash Street and Church Street for their opportunity to win a coveted hand-made People’s Choice Award. Proceeds from the Hogs & Hot Rods Cruise-In will also support the Nash County Special Olympics.

“We have something for everyone,” said Phelps. “Whether you like barbeque, beer, classic cars or just having a good time, downtown Rocky Mount during the BBQ Throw Down is the place to be!”

Cook teams, brewers and car enthusiasts are not the only winners at this year’s BBQ Throw Down. Guests may win too. On Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017, attendees can play Plinko at the Rocky Mount Public Utilities (RMPU) booth for an opportunity to win $100 off their city of Rocky Mount utility bill.

Entertainment will be prevalent at the annual festival, with incredible groups taking the stage throughout the event. On Friday night, Oct. 13, 2017 RMPU will sponsor the BBQ Bash on the main stage in front of the train station (101 Coastline Street, Rocky Mount NC), featuring music from Who’s Bad, The Ultimate Michael Jackson Tribute Band. The band will perform from 6pm to 8:30pm.

Crowd favorite Silk Groove kicks off the music on the main stage Saturday, October 14, 2017, at 11am playing Motown and beach music favorites. Local country artists, Denver Nixon, take the stage at 1pm followed by Night Years at 3pm with some of the best party music in the region.

Many food vendors will offer their delicacies starting Friday evening and all day on Saturday. There will also be a large area of children’s activities, including inflatables, games and much more.

During the BBQ Throw Down, the city’s 150th anniversary will also be recognized with tours of Rocky Mount. Rocky Mount was incorporated as a town in 1867, and the public is invited to learn the city’s history during a three-hour tour led by Downtown Development Manager John Jesso. The tour will take place Friday, October 13, 2017, from 9am to 12:30pm and from 1:30pm to 4:30pm. The tour will continue Saturday, October 14, 2017, from 11am to 2pm, with stops to include areas in downtown Rocky Mount, NC Wesleyan College, Nash Community College, Nash UNC Healthcare and Rocky Mount Mills. All participants will be transported from the Station Square parking lot. To sign up for the downtown tours, send an e-mail to, or call 252.972.1319.

For more information on the 10th annual Eastern Carolina BBQ Throw Down, call 252-972-1151, or visit Updates may be found on the event’s Facebook page.

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