Get Smoked July 3-4 at the Hilo Bay BBQ

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Word of mouth is a powerful, sometimes tasty phenomenon.

While a lone banner bravely flaps in the wind along front street in Downtown Hilo, one can hardly find any info online about Hawaii’s premier bar-b-que event, the Hilo Bay BBQ Cook-Off.

A Facebook page dedicated to the event has 14 “likes” and little content, while the event’s website is near-comical in its dysfunction.

But don’t let the lack of HTML fool you. This BBQ is, as Ron Burgundy would say, “kind of a big deal.”

Sanctioned by the International Bar-B-Que Cookers Association, the Hilo Bay BBQ actually serves as the “Hawaii State BBQ Championship” event, allowing the winner to qualify for a spot in the prestigious “Jack Daniel’s Invitational.”

Dave Yamamoto of Hilo: 2013 reserve champion of the Hilo Bay BBQ. Image courtesy.

Dave Yamamoto of Hilo: 2013 reserve champion of the Hilo Bay BBQ. Courtesy image.


That fact alone has helped the event, held right smack on Downtown Hilo’s bay front soccer fields, to draw competitors from around the nation, each eager to win a spot at “Jack’s” namesake smoke-out in Tennessee.

For Big Island Bar-B-Que lovers, this has proven a very good thing. Past champions have included “Slap Yo Daddy” and “2 Broke-Ass Texans,” both nationally-acclaimed pit masters.

This year’s tourney will feature more than a dozen competitors from Hawai`i and the US mainland battling over six different bar-b-que favorites including chili, spare ribs, pork, chicken and the venerable brisket. Poke even has a category all to its own, for the fish lovers among you.

And the cost to the public? You’re free to enter.

This BBQ chicken was a signature dish for past competitors "Slap Yo Daddy Bar B Que". Image courtesy.

This BBQ chicken was a signature dish for past competitor “Slap Yo Daddy Bar B Que.” Courtesy image.


Select competitors will be selling their wares (read: meat), while a full-time concession booth will offer pulled pork sandwiches, brisket sandwiches, sirloin-tip sandwiches and chili and rice.

Those hoping to enter the competition can still do so, but must act fast. Entry costs $175, and interested parties can contact Hawaiian Arts of Hilo, the hosts of the event, at (808) 935-1860.

Schedule of Events:

July 3


Competition cooking begins at 7:30 a.m. The “People’s Choice Jack-Pot Chili” contest runs from noon till 3 p.m., while the competition chili and competition poke contests get judged at 4 and 5 p.m., respectively.

No shortage of protein: the "Hilo Bay BBQ and Cook Off" will test competitors skills at handling the venerable "brisket", among other favorites.

No shortage of protein: The “Hilo Bay BBQ and Cook Off” will test competitors’ skills at handling the venerable “brisket,” among other favorites.

July 4

Judging for spare ribs, pork and brisket begin at 1 p.m., 2 p.m., and 3 p.m., respectively, with competition winners for both days announced in the parking lot at 4:30 p.m.

Prizes include hats, trophies, and monetary awards, with the “Grand Champion” taking home $500, and a mighty fine trophy.

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