On August 31, 2013 the Florida BBQ Association (FBA) board of directors chose the Suncoast BBQ & Bluegrass Bash to host the 2014 Florida BBQ State Championship. It will be held on April 19, 2014 at the Venice Municipal Airport. In addition it will be a qualifying contest for the Food Network’s World Food Championship in Las Vegas (the super bowl of all world BBQ contests), the Jack Daniels World BBQ Championship and the American Royal World Series of BBQ.

There were two major factors in the Florida BBQ Association’s decision, the recent upgrades to the utilities at the Venice Municipal Airport special event area and the national appeal of the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) winners the Boxcars and Balsam Range who will be performing during An Afternoon of Bluegrass. President Tony Wolfe stated, “The Venice contest has become one of the premier contests on our circuit. The organizer and the community support are just unbelievable”. Venice was one of six venues in consideration to host the state championship contest.

The Suncoast BBQ & Bluegrass Bash has become the largest BBQ contest in Southwest Florida. It attracts the nation’s top Pitmasters, certified judges and barbecue lovers. The 2013 event had a record attendance of over 10,000 folks! This year’s event will continue to provide a boost in local tourism as another special destination event in the area’s growing tourism industry.

The past several years’ success definitely indicates the popularity of the venue with the blending of two southern traditions, barbecuing and bluegrass music. As Nancy Cardwell, executive director of the IBMA, commented, “There is a natural connection between bluegrass music and open-air barbecue cooking”.