The final weekend of September every year is the second busiest time for downtown Paducah, KY (runner up to the famous Quilt Week). Everyone and their mother gather to eat more BBQ than you’ve ever seen in your lifetime at a festival called BBQ on the River.
A little background of Paducah, KY – it’s a small town in Western Kentucky that sits on the Ohio River. The population is around 25,000 but is quickly growing. I was born and raised here, until college brought me to Bowling Green, KY – 2 hours east. My parents, brothers, and grandparents still live here, so my husband and I visit often; the final weekend of September being our favorite weekend to visit!
Thursday-Saturday, people from all around gather downtown where vendors are set up side-by-side. Over 30 vendors sell BBQ and variations such as pork sandwiches, ribs, pork steak, and my favorite – BBQ nachos. Chips and cheese, pork, BBQ sauce, and baked beans (Don’t diss the baked beans on the nachos until you try it! It’s a southern thing). Although I will say, this is the first year I had even had baked beans on the nachos! Plenty of other vendors do it different. In the pictures below, you will also see a bowl of what tasted more like a stew than beans, and Cajun corn. You can never go wrong if you’re willing to try something new!
Along with the BBQ vendors, are booths set up selling desserts, arts and crafts, clothes, and anything else you can think of. Chocolate Covered Key Lime Pie On a Stick, Hot Fudge Cake, Fried Oreos, Fried Twinkies, you name it. Jethro the Clown even makes an appearance to hand out balloon animals. To top it off, a band is set up on a stage near the flood wall, jamming to rock and roll with a beer garden directly across.
On the final day of the festival, winners are chosen. Every part of the pig has a food category, and then of course, the Grand Champion overall BBQ winner.
The 2017 Grand Champion was Ribdaddy & the Porkers. (Once again, welcome to the south)
The place my mom and I got the BBQ nachos was Larry, Darrell & Darrell – 6X Grand Champions. But like I said, you can never go wrong no matter where you choose to get your BBQ. Most all of the vendors have won one year or another.
It’s a great event to grab your family and friends, eat delicious, southern food together, and enjoy the night.
To learn more, here is the official BBQ on the River website: bbqontheriver.org