Just out of coincidence, I happen to discover a BBQ festival going on along my trip to see my family. I stopped by Allentown, PA to find the downtown area blocked off for Blues, Brews & Barbecue 2021. As the name of the event suggest, there was live blues music being played on multiple stages, fresh, local beer being served, and hot smokers lined up offering tasty BBQ to long lines of fans.
What a perfect event to attend after a year and half hiatus. The blues music filled the background and the smokers filled the air. The atmosphere was perfect to an enjoy a day with other folks there to enjoy the things that you like. I was wearing a Meat & Potatoes shirt from Pittsburgh, PA and a few people stopped and talked to me.
I tried some great BBQ from Grumpy’s, Joe Smoke, Buck’s BBQ and Mr. BBQ. They all had really long lines and sold out early. Buck’s surprised me with a Blueberry Habanero sauce for their pork ribs. I was a sample a rib from each place to get an idea of what they were all doing. They all used offset smokers, smoked onsite, and nailed the execution.
As the night was wrapping up, I struck up a conversation with Gary Stephens, pitmaster and owner of Mr. BBQ 911 serving Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania and the surrounding area. They served everything that they brought to the festival and left it all out on the field. It was great to chat with Gary and learn a few tricks.
- BBQ festivals work when there is something for everyone. You could have been three for the blues, brews, or BBQ. There were Jamaican options, vegan options, and of course all of the sides of mac and cheese that your little ones could imagine (and a lot of adults).
- Blueberry Habanero BBQ sauce is really good. I never made a sauce with blueberry so I am definitely going to try that out for my next smoke.
- Most of the BBQ vendors ran out of sides and then ran out of BBQ pretty early into the night. This was probably a combination of being the first live event in a while and giving people oversized portions. The trash bins were constantly being cleared of discard Styrofoam boxes of wasted food.
- I would love to try to come back next year. Allentown, PA is a far journey from Framingham, MA, but it was well worth the stop.