Do you consider yourself a barbeque connoisseur? Do your eyes light up at the sight of a billowing smoker in front of a restaurant? Does your mouth water at the smell of a rich and hearty barbeque sauce? If you answered yes to any (or all!) of these questions, you won’t want to miss the chance to check out Gatlinburg’s Rib Fest, Wings & BBQ festival, an annual event in Tennessee that celebrates all things barbeque.
Going for more than 10 years strong, this event takes place along the downtown Gatlinburg, Tennessee, Parkway. Typically hosted on a weekend in late April, the Gatlinburg Ribfest shifts the normally busy Parkway into a bustling downtown street fair. You will see all types of people at this event, from young couples and families with children to old friends and everything in between. This festive event brings out barbeque lovers from all over the area!
The Gatlinburg Ribfest, Wings & BBQ celebration has recently expanded to include chicken wings and all types of your favorite barbeque. No barbeque event is complete without a cook-off, and this event will not disappoint! There are multiple categories and competitions for participants to enter, including the People’s Choice Award, which is decided by you – the people! Additional categories include Best Ribs and Best Wings, decided upon by a panel of judges with a refined palate for barbeque.
There are competitions for the vendors (local Gatlinburg restaurants) – but what about competitions for you? No worries here – the Gatlinburg Ribfest has a history of getting the fans in on the action. If the sight of a habanero doesn’t make you cringe, you may be set up for the treacherous hot-wing-eating contest. Past events have included ice cream eating contests, so prepare yourself for a serious brain freeze if you take on this challenge!
The best barbeque chefs in the South come to participate in this event, bringing their best recipes for the public to sample and enjoy. But that isn’t all that the Gatlinburg Ribfest has to offer! This event brings in live music and entertainment, children’s games, face painting, and more. Gatlinburg, Tennessee, goes above and beyond to ensure something to offer all guests, both young and old, at its festivals.
The Gatlinburg Ribfest works like this: pay a small price of admission and receive unlimited samples until the food runs out! Satisfy any craving you have, whether it’s for a sweet honey barbeque wing or a spicy and smoky rib. The event kicks off in the late afternoon and runs until nightfall, so stop by early or hang out for the whole event to catch all the fun and games.
As always, vendors will offer additional bites to satisfy a sweet tooth, post barbeque binge. Enjoy an ice cream from the local Ben and Jerry’s or a fluffy funnel cake from any number of Gatlinburg’s favorite sugary shops. Vendors also offer additional sides to complement barbeque dishes, including Brunswick stew, grilled corn on the cob, and baked potatoes. You’re in for a whole meal-deal when you attend the Gatlinburg Ribfest!
The heart of the Gatlinburg Ribfest is located at the Plaza just in front of Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies. This means you will be within walking distance to all your favorite Gatlinburg treasures, including The Village Shops, the Mountain Mall, jewelry stores, souvenir shops, and much, much more. You can make a day of browsing the specialty stores in downtown – from wooden signs to antique stores, downtown Gatlinburg has it all!
A portion of the proceeds of each Gatlinburg Ribfest goes to benefit a local charity or outreach program. Rest assured that your money will go towards a great cause – past events have benefited Gatlinburg Hospitality Association’s educational scholarship fund.
After all of the ribs have been eaten, you will be ready for some relaxation and rest. Cabins for YOU offers many cabin rentals near the downtown Parkway – some even within walking distance of all the fun and action. After an evening of all-you-can-eat barbeque, retire to your Gatlinburg cabin rental to kick back and unwind.
Enjoy a soak in your cabin rental’s hot tub or gaze at the Smoky Mountain sunset from the comfort of a country rocking chair. Soothe your tired feet with a rest in the indoor jetted tub or, better yet, hit the sheets early to catch a few extra ZZZs. A weekend away in our Gatlinburg cabin rentals is the perfect excuse to visit the Smokies for the Gatlinburg Ribfest!
More Food Festivals in the Smokies
Not a fan of barbecue? Plan your trip to the Great Smoky Mountains around one of the other festivals devoted to food in Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg. Throughout the year, food festivals and events give you a great taste of the mountains.
Smoky Mountain Wine Fest | April 8
Gatlinburg Beans & Cornbread Festival | May 11
OktOBERfest at Ober | September 23 – October 30
Winter Magic Kickoff & Chili Cookoff | November 8