The Santa Clarita BBQ and Beer festival saw continued expansion in its third year, building on its namesake food and drink with an elevated entertainment focus. Country music star Billy Currington headlined the two-day festival, bringing with him a sea of cowboy hats, plaid shirts and leather boots that gave the festival a true identity for the first time, and one that will inevitably take it further down the country route for years to come.
Another part of the festival’s remodel was the addition of an ‘a la carte’ program to Friday’s bottomless beer offering. Two tents hosted dozens of breweries featuring endless pours, as well as additional stands throughout the venue that worked on a drink ticket system. In both cases, the crowd had no shortage of options. Several local favorites highlighted the lineup—Brewery Draconum, Wolf Creek Brewery, Pocock Brewing Co. and The Dudes’ Brewing Company—showing some exciting development in Santa Clarita’s beer scene. Lagunitas, Shock Top, Firestone Walker and Angel City Brewery were just a few major players on the festival’s growing list of purveyors.
Barbecue was, of course, ever-present. Carter’s Smoked BBQ dished out their heavenly pulled pork and jaw-dropping grande nachos, while Ambience Catering served up some mean hot links and tri tip. Panchos Nachos and Tacos prepared some excellent bbq beef made especially for the event, accompanied by street tamales and other south-of-the-border favorites. Burt’s garlic fries were certainly a crowd favorite, their aroma bringing in a steady stream of patrons
The festival drew its biggest crowd to date, with a venue nearly four times the size compared to years past. The concert stage, previously tucked away in a corner, took its place front and center this time around, majestically flanked by the hilly landscape. Two enormous fields in Santa Clarita’s Central Park were more than enough to accommodate all the cowboy-clad shenanigans that took place, and you’re always pleasantly reminded that you’re in a family-oriented town when you leave a beer festival and there’s a youth soccer game taking place on the other side of the fence.
For more information, visit bbqandbeerfestival.com
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Benjamin Brown is a seasoned restaurant writer and hospitality consultant, serving up SoCal's hottest food news and reviews.