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BBQ, Blues & Brews on the Bay Returns to South Oregon Coast in May

Published 03/30/22 at 5:35 PM PST
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

BBQ, Blues & Brews on the Bay Returns to South Oregon Coast in May

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(North Bend, Oregon) – At that rather effervescent dividing line just barely between spring and summer, when May is about to morph into June, Memorial Day weekend happens and the entire Oregon coast lights up. Indeed, it fires up. The crowds rush in like a full moon tide, and it's considered the unofficial kickoff to the summer season. (Above: courtesy The Mill Casino)

One thing that's on everyone's minds is a good Memorial Weekend barbecue, and the south Oregon coast will not disappoint when it comes to this.

It's at this point in time that the North Bend's Mill Casino hosts the BBQ, Blues & Brews on the Bay event, which had to lay low for a couple of years due to the pandemic, but now it's back in full form on May 28 and 29. It's one of The Mill's largest events of the year, boasting hand-crafted beers, a wide array of tasty barbecue, and red hot smokin' blues.

There are a variety of features still to be announced, but The Mill Casino knows the event's fans are chomping at the bit for this kind of release.

On Saturday, May 28, from noon to 6 p.m. there will be loads of samples given out. The barbecue competitors will be handing out tastings of their yummy offerings. These are limited, however, and it goes as long as supplies last. Meanwhile, all food vendors will be fully up and running, the beer garden will be a rager and live bands will be churning out the blues. You'll also be able to sample more than 30 craft brews in the beer garden.

On Sunday, May 29 the action really starts. Barbecuers will be in complete competition mode and new items will be released every half hour.

Courtesy The Mill Casino

The barbecue competition judging begins at noon, and the entire festival goes until 4 p.m. Food vendors, bands and craft brewers will be aplenty.

At 4 p.m. the BBQ, Blues & Brews on the Bay awards ceremonies happen, with prize money to the best BBQ wizards and the best beer purveyors will be announced.

Kevin Lee, spokesperson for The Mill Casino, said BBQ, Blues & Brews on the Bay has been a growing event on the south Oregon coast. Typically, recent years have wound up with an attendance of 3,000 to 5,000 people over the two days.

Over time, the scope of the competitions has grown as well, something Lee said was a bit of a highlight.

“The first year we held the event in 2011, we had 18 teams participating in the Kansas City BBQ Society (KCBS) competition,” Lee said. “In 2019 we had our largest team turnout with over 40 teams. In the KCBS competition world, this event is one of the largest in the Pacific Northwest and is a favorite among teams. In fact, we typically get at least 25 of the same competing teams coming back year after year.”

These groups of barbecue creators have managed to form a tight-knit community, Lee said, and the BBQ, Blues & Brews on the Bay event now feels like a family reunion each time it comes around. It's also attracted some famous names in that world.

“As a team favorite we’ve attracted names such as Mo Cason, who's been seen on Pit Masters, Smoked and BBQ Pit Wars; and Lynnae Oxley, owner of Sugar’s BBQ whose been seen on Pit Masters, Chopped and BBQ Brawl,” Lee said.

Another watermark but rather sad moment for the festival was reached early on.

During the planning stages of the first event in 2011, Jim Monihan, owner of Privateer Productions was brought in to assist The Mill Sales Team with organization of the event, Lee said. He inspired something new in the festival fairly quickly.

“Jim was well known in the BBQ world competing in countless competitions, as a KCBS Rep and Contest Organizer,” Lee said. “Sadly he passed away just months before the first event in 2011. Each year, we honor him with the Jim Monihan Mac & Cheese competition as Jim loved Mac and Cheese!!! The Mac and Cheese contest has grown to be a fan favorite and one of the most anticipated elements of the event. Guests can sample Mac & Cheese on Sunday. May 29th from 1:30 p.m. until 4:00 p.m.”

Another major component of the south Oregon coast event is the craft beer sampling.

“Guests have come to expect an a large array of craft beers and ciders from small breweries to nationally recognized brand,” Lee said. “This year’s event will feature 25 different flavors of craft beers and ciders that will be enjoyed all while listening to great blues bands.”

Now that the pandemic seems to be receding, major events like this or Astoria's Crab and Wine Festival are coming back to life. It's been a long haul, however. Recently, organizers at The Mill began to feel comfortable diving back into such large-scale festivals.

“We felt the community needed a boost to kick-off the summer season,” Lee said. “With the understanding of following state guidelines, and the fact that we have our own protocols in place to help protect the team and attendees, we could bring back BBQ, Blues & Brews for its 9th annual year.”

The Mill Casino - Hotel & RV Park. 3201 Tremont St. North Bend, Oregon. 800.953.4800, 541.756.8800.

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Photo courtesy Oregon's Adventure Coast

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