Your 2018 guide to Colorado BBQ Challenge in Frisco |

Your 2018 guide to Colorado BBQ Challenge in Frisco

Meat and seafood kebabs during the annual Colorado BBQ Challenge Friday, June 16, on Main Street in Frisco.
Hugh Carey /

What’s New at the Q

At the Colorado BBQ Challenge, while some things will remain the same — over 70 BBQ providers, pig races and an impressive music lineup — this year is delivering some notable changes, from more bands to shuttle parking at Copper Mountain Resort, due to circumstance and in celebration of the Colorado BBQ Challenge’s 25th birthday.

“This year’s BBQ Challenge is bringing some delightful changes like a bigger music budget, a new volunteer award and Sheriff’s Office participation in the Firefighter Cook-of. We’re really blowing out BBQ’s 25 birthday candles with some fun and impactful enhancements,” said Vanessa Agee, the town’s director of marketing and communications.


Volunteer Award: During the Colorado BBQ Challenge’s 25th birthday, the inaugural Outstanding Volunteer Award will be presented Saturday, acknowledging the volunteer who has made a significant and exceptional impact on the Colorado BBQ Challenge through their volunteer work in 2018.

Parking: Due to parking lot construction, shuttle parking will be at Copper Mountain’s Alpine Lot, rather than the middle school. Exit 195/Copper is 7 miles west of Frisco and will provide ample parking with regular shuttles buses and some incentives. Any cars parking at Copper’s Alpine Lot with three people or less will receive five Hogbacks per car and a coupon good for a one-time 25 percent off of Hogbacks and any cars with four people or more will receive 10 Hogbacks per car and a coupon good for a one-time 25 percent off of Hogbacks.

Music: This year’s BBQ Challenge Music lineup includes 11 bands over three days with Big Sam’s Funky Nation headlining during Thursday’s kickoff concert; Robert Randolph & the Family Band capping off Friday’s concert schedule; and the Joan Osborne Trio: Songs of Bob Dylan closing out BBQ Challenge on Saturday.

Pets and outside alcohol: No pets are allowed at the BBQ Challenge. The BBQ Challenge is also a fundraiser for six local nonprofits and significant portions of these donations are raised through liquor sales. Bringing outside alcohol onto the BBQ site is a violation of the event’s liquor license and not allowed.

Firefighter/Sheriff Cook-off: For the fourth year of the firefighter cook-off, the Sheriff’s Office has been added to the cook-off. For more, go to or call 1-800-424-1554.

Music lineup

Thursday, June 14, 2018- BBQ Kickoff Concert

7–7:45 p.m. Beau Thomas Band - Local favorite, Beau Thomas, brings his strong and soulful sound to Frisco’s Main Stage for what is always an unforgettable performance. Thomas is a 29-year-old acoustic singer/songwriter and 6th generation native to Colorado who plays an eclectic mix of original music and cover tunes. Thomas’ local popularity has exploded since he participated as a contestant on NBC’s “The Voice.”

8–9:30 p.m. Big Sam’s Funky Nation- Known for a boisterous blend of funk, jazz, rock, and hip-hop, nothing short of seismic live “experiences,” and a whole lot of Southern charm, Big Sam’s Funky Nation might very well be The Big Easy’s best kept secret. The front man, “Big Sam” Williams, personally draws on over two decades in music, spanning everything from 300 shows per year during his days in Dirty Dozen Brass Band and gigs backing up Widespread Panic and Dave Matthews Band to recording and touring with Allen Toussaint and Elvis Costello. This six-person band is sure to make music fans reconsider what they know about New Orleans funk.

Friday, June 15

1–2:30 p.m. 101st Army Rock Band – The 101st Army Rock Band plays a high-energy mix of rock and roll from the 70’s all the way through the present. The group specializes in horn-driven funk and dance music and performs at festivals and events around the country.

3–4:30 p.m. Yak Attack – Yak Attack is real, organic electronica. The bands three musicians have combined forces to create a full, lush, danceable sound using live loops, well-placed samples, thick grooves, and expansive soundscapes. Yak Attack keeps the dance party at full blast, while constantly jamming, improvising, and experimenting with tunes in ways only a live band can.

5:30–7 p.m. Cowboy Mouth - For over two decades, Cowboy Mouth has dished up its unique style of rock & roll gumbo, mixing a rowdy spirit reflective of the band’s hometown -- New Orleans -- with the fierce firepower of a group that lives on the road. These Louisiana natives have played more than 2,500 concerts and launched their signature song, “Jenny Says,” into the upper half of the Billboard rock charts. Above all else, they earned a well-deserved rep as a raucous, redemptive, live music experience.

7:30–9 p.m. Robert Randolph and the Family Band – Led by renowned pedal steel guitarist, vocalist and songwriter, Robert Randolph and the Family Band have embraced their astounding improvisational skills, making them a favorite in the jam-band scene. But Randolph and his band maintain that jamming is really just a “true music art form scene” and an extension of what they have always done. Their smartly crafted tunes are well supported by musical virtuosity that never disappoints.

Saturday, June 16

10–11:15 a.m. Message in a Bottle – In tribute to The Police, Message In A Bottle recreates the magic and original flavor of Sting, Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland of yesteryear, while producing an energetic and fresh live show of today. This four piece plays all of The Police’s greatest hits, including “Roxanne,” “Every Breath You Take” and “Message In A Bottle”.

11:45–1:15 p.m. Ghost of Paul Revere – These “rowdy pickers from the north” bring roots music to the stage that blends blues and soul into the mix. This Portland, Maine-based trio describes their sound as “holler folk,” not because it involves a lot of hollering, per se, but because it invokes the rich communal tradition of field hollers, with their call-and-response melodies, sing-along hooks, and densely layered harmonies. That sense of musical camaraderie is essential to everything The Ghost of Paul Revere does.

1:45–3 p.m. Elektric Voodoo – Elektric Voodoo is a “World Beat Rock & Roll” band from southern California that blends classic afrobeat, latin, rock & roll, psych, jazz, blues and many other influences into its own unique genre that tastefully straddles the line between modern and vintage. The band started when Scott Tournet (founding member of Grace Potter & The Nocturnals) started writing new material after leaving the Nocturnals. This powerful 7 piece ensemble brings more than just a “world music project” to the stage.

3:15–4 p.m. John Truscelli and Jess Rose - Singer/songwriter John Truscelli’s is a local favorite who offers a unique and soulful voice in all genres of music. John was an honorable mention for the Telluride Bluegrass Troubadour competition in 2013, and his single, “Hard To Say Goodbye”, was featured on “Deadliest Catch” on the Discovery Channel, as well as the movie “The Fifth Quarter”. Joining John in this performance is Jess Rose Moidel who brings formidable violin and vocal skills.

4:30–6 p.m. Joan Osborne Trio: Songs of Bob Dylan - On Songs of Bob Dylan, Joan Osborne unleashes her sizable gifts as a vocalist and interpreter upon The Bard’s celebrated canon. With performances honed by the time Osborne spent polishing them during “Joan Osborne Sings The Songs Of Bob Dylan” — two critically acclaimed two-week residencies she performed at New York City’s Café Carlyle in March 2016 and 2017, the seven-time Grammy-nominated, multi-platinum-selling singer and songwriter, whom The New York Times has called “a fiercely intelligent, no-nonsense singer,” winds her supple, soulful voice around Dylan’s poetic, evocative lyrics, etching gleaming new facets in them along the way.

As Frisco gears up for its biggest event of the year, what makes the annual Colorado BBQ Challenge so delicious depends upon just whom you ask.

The shindig featuring teams competing for coveted titles in categories such as best pork, ribs, chicken, brisket, anything goes, barbecue sauce, side dishes, salsa and dessert, extends over six blocks on Main Street Frisco, pulling in tens of thousands to downtown every year.

It starts with a kickoff concert at 7 p.m. tonight, but things really start smoking Friday and Saturday when barbecue sales begin. On Friday, the barbecue goes from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday.

It sounds like the barbecue can’t come soon enough for the two young women who were all smiles Wednesday as they worked the Foote’s Rest Sweet Shoppe on Main Street.

One of them, Keelie Rix, is no stranger to the annual event, and she knows it’s one box she has to cross off this summer. The other, Holly Richardson, who’s new to town, is eager to see what all the sauce is about.

“It’s my favorite time of the year,” Rix said of the barbecue. “Awesome food, awesome music, and there’s always this one little place that has like the best mac and cheese I’ve ever had in my entire life.”

Originally from Texas and partial to brisket, Richardson comes from a state that knows a thing or two about good barbecue. She’s staying in Summit County for the summer, and while Richardson hasn’t experienced Frisco’s beloved event herself, she’s already heard plenty about it.

“When (my friend and I) saw the barbecue festival, we were like, ‘This is perfect for us,’” Richardson said. “Everyone says it’s insane. The streets are shut down. I can’t wait.”

Just down the street at Calisco Wearables, a boutique that specializes in outdoor fashion, yoga and active lifestyle clothing, along with other items, the store’s owner, Lua Ton, just restocked her inventory ahead of the big weekend.

For Ton, summers are the busiest time of the year at the store, and she said the barbecue always provides a nice boost to kick off the season, especially when good weather holds.

“In general, summertime is generally bigger (for sales),” Ton said. “The barbecue is a good start, and it’s a push where the sales really kick off for the rest of the summer.”

As a result, Calisco is going all out for the event. In addition to having food and drink at the store, Ton has a small stage set up with guitars, bongo drums and more for open mic performances.

Pictures of previous open mics grace the walls inside the store, and Ton has the photo, dated Sept. 13, 2007, to prove four-time Grammy winner Keb’ Mo’ once played in Friso.

The first official state BBQ challenge was in 1993. Twenty-two-year-old Cameron Bobb, a Breckenridge native, wasn’t yet born when the event came to Frisco 25 years ago, but over the last two decades he’s come to know it well.

For Bobb, the best part isn’t the food, the live music, the street performers or even the piglet races. Instead, he said it’s the “social aspect” of the event and running into so many familiar faces.

The Colorado BBQ Challenge is free, but Hogbacks remain the going currency for food, drink, souvenirs and children’s activities.

Each Hogback represents $1. The purchases are non-refundable, but participating restaurants, bars and shops — look for signs that say “Hogbacks Accepted Here”— will continue taking them through Sunday.

Because of the large crowds, parking can become an issue. This year, parking lot construction in town has organizers “willing to pay” festivalgoers who take Interstate 70 to Exit 195, Copper Mountain.

At Copper, any cars with three or more people inside will get five Hogbacks per carload and a coupon that’s good for 25 percent off a purchase of Hogbacks. Cars with four or more will get the same coupon along with 10 Hogbacks.

A shuttle will ferry people from the mountain to Frisco from 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday. Because there is so much food at the event, dogs are not allowed. A fireworks show on Friday has been canceled. For more information, go to or call 1-800-424-1554.


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