National BBQ fest returns to Sanford with live music, fun

The Celery City has long been known for its barbecue, and this Saturday, Jan.14, top pitmasters from across the country will be in Sanford to show off their talents.

Sonny’s Smoking’ Showdown Invitational features more than 50 teams competing for $68,000 in prizes at the Central Florida Zoo. This is the second year Sanford has hosted the barbecue competition and festival.

Click for a chance to win free tickets to the Sonny's Smokin' Showdown.
Click for a chance to win free tickets to the Sonny’s Smokin’ Showdown.

The event will feature a full day of live music, family fun and delicious BBQ. Attendees can watch the professional barbecue competition teams compete and taste their award-winning recipes. There will also be a rib eating contests for adults, a donut eating contest for kids and live music featuring country music’s Frankie Ballard.

General admission for adults is $5, and children 10 and under are free. There is no cost to park.

The invitation-only barbecue competition brings together the nation’s top pitmasters in one arena for an epic BBQ battle. Teams are judged on five different meat categories: chicken, ribs, pork, brisket and a mystery meat, which will be announced at the event.

Schedule of Events:
11am: Gates Open
12pm: Kid’s Donut Eating Contest
12:30pm: Cooking Demo
1pm: Rib Eating Contest
1:30pm: Cooking Demo
2:30pm: Meet The Masters
3pm: Live Music – Hayfire
5pm: Live Music – Rockit Fly
6pm: Awards Ceremony
7:15pm: Live Music – Jill’s Cashbox
8:30pm: Live Music – Frankie Ballard

For more information about Sonny’s Smokin’ Showdown, please visit

Sonny’s Smokin’ Showdown Invitational is a national BBQ competition hosted by Sonny’s BBQ, the nation’s third largest barbecue chain, and sanctioned by the Florida Barbecue Association.

Founded in Gainesville in 1968 by Floyd “Sonny” Tillman and his wife, Lucille, Winter Park-based Sonny’s BBQ has 113 locations throughout the southeast.