Autumn Treasures Is Waxhaw’s Biggest Festival Of The Year

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Waxhaw Autumn Treasures Festival

When: Friday-Sunday, Oct. 13-15

Where: Downtown Waxhaw, N.C.

What: BBQ competitions, BBQ food tastings, food vendors, arts and crafts vendors, kids zone, food trucks and live music.

Waxhaw is throwing a party on the second weekend in October and the annual Autumn Treasures Festival promises to be the best and biggest yet. From a professional and amateur barbeque competitions, to several live musical acts, to food and arts and crafts vendors, to a family-fun kids zone, the Autumn Festival will something for anyone.

A crowd of 10,000 is expected to visit the festival over the three days.

The main event will be held in downtown Waxhaw on Saturday, Oct. 14 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sunday, Oct. 15 from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. There will even be a little fun on Friday night as the professional BBQ competitors will begin grilling and there will be a concert similar to Jammin’ by the Tracks summer concert series. The featured band Friday night will be Shelly Ruffin and Soul Revival.

There will also be live music on Saturday and Sunday with a wide range of musical acts scheduled to play.

One of the highlights will be a Grill’n and Chill’n BBQ cookoff on Saturday and Sunday, and the professional competitors from the Kansas City Barbeque Society (KCBS) circuit will start their grilling on Friday night in preparation for Saturday’s professional competition. The amateurs will offer up their BBQ to the panel of judge’s on Sunday.

So far, professional BBQ teams from North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia and South Carolina are among the nearly 30 teams signed up so far. To taste the BBQ either Saturday or Sunday, the public can get 10 tastes for $10 and the proceeds will benefit two charities. There is $10,000 in prize money on the line in the professional competition.

“This is the seventh year that we have had the professional BBQ competition,” said Lisa Hoffman with the city of Waxhaw.

There are still spots available in the Backyard (amateur) BBQ competition but the deadline to enter is Friday, Sept. 29. Call Lisa Hoffman at 704-843-2195.

In addition to the BBQ tastings, the festival food offerings will also include a food truck paradise as several food trucks are scheduled to attend the event.

BBQ Heaven

The Pro teams will arrive on Friday and cook all night and on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. the teams will turn in their meats to be judged. The judge’s panel is comprised of professional KCBS certified personnel. Professional teams are judged in four categories: chicken, pork ribs, pork shoulder/butt and beef brisket. On Saturday from 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. the public will get a chance to taste this delicious BBQ during the public tasting event. All ticket sales from this event help two local charities. Winners will be announced Saturday at 5 p.m.

When the Pro Teams are done cooking, it will be time for the Backyard Teams to fire up their grills and start cooking. The backyard competition to Grill’n & Chill’n is a first for this competition and Backyard teams will follow KCBS rules and be judged by a professional line-up of KCBS certified judges. Backyard teams will be judged in two meat categories: chicken and pork ribs. On Sunday from 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. the public will get a chance to taste the BBQ during the backyard public tasting event. Winners will be announced Sunday at 5 p.m.

What is a KCBS Contest?

So what is a Kansas City BBQ sanctioned contest? KCBS sanctions BBQ and Grilling competitions across the U.S. and promotes barbeque as America’s cuisine. In addition, KCBS has an extensive Certified Barbeque Judging program. It is the largest society of barbeque enthusiasts in the world.

The Waxhaw Grill’n & Chill’n BBQ Cook-off is a traditional sanctioned KCBS contest. A traditional sanctioned KCBS contest is staffed by KCBS-approved contest organizers and judges. Pro Teams are required to cook four types of meat (Chicken, Pork Ribs, Pork Butt, & Brisket) and Backyard Teams are required to cook two types of meat (Chicken, Pork Ribs).  The cooking source at a traditional sanctioned contest is wood, wood pellets or charcoal. Pro Teams participating are eligible to advance to the American Royal BBQ Championship and the Jack Daniels World Championship. All teams who participate accumulate points towards the KCBS Team of the Year awards and cash prizes.

For a typical contest, teams arrive the night prior to the contest, grill their meats all night long and then turn-in their meats for judging the next morning at specified times.

Kids Zone

The Kids Zone at the Autumn Festival will feature inflatables, carnival rides, pony rides, a petting zoo, children’s entertainers, which will include magicians, jugglers, clowns, caricature artists, balloon twisters, face painters and kids’ crafts.

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Paul Nielsen
Nielsen was a sports writer for what is now the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for nearly 32 years before moving to North Carolina in February 2016. At the Democrat-Gazette, Nielsen's primary responsibility was beat coverage for Rogers High School. Rogers is a Class 7A school located in Northwest Arkansas.
Nielsen, a University of Arkansas graduate, covered the Northwest Arkansas Naturals Minor League Baseball team from 2008-2015. The Naturals are the Double-A affiliate of the Kansas City Royals.
Nielsen has experience covering University of Arkansas athletics, including NCAA Tournament basketball games and several football bowl games. He also covered amateur and professional golf tournaments in Northwest Arkansas.
Nielsen lives in Matthews with his wife, Susan. He can be reached at