In the late 1800s, thousands of Texans struck it rich when they tapped into veins of thick, dark, tangy barbecue sauce (as chronicled in the Oscar-winning film There Will Be Sauce). Taste this natural bounty while it's still hot from the earth with today's Groupon to the Arizona Barbecue Festival on Saturday, March 26 from 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Keep in mind that children 12 and under are admitted to the festival for free with an accompanying adult, and choose between the following admission options:
- For $5, you get one general admission ticket (a $10 value).
- For $50, you get one VIP tent admission (a $100 value).
The Arizona Barbecue Festival pleases palates with a flavorful forum showcasing the barbecue mastery of pitmasters from around the country. Sample smoked savories from dozens of teams with varying culinary backgrounds, barbecue beliefs, and literary tastes before the grand-prize winner is announced at the end of the festival. In between mouthfuls of brisket, tender ribs, chicken, and pulled pork patrons can high-five the beauty pageant's newly crowned festival queen, scope out cooking demos taught by masterful meat maestros, hold tight during free mechanical bull rides, and test smoked meat's effect on dance muscles amid the audible backdrop of live music playing on the main stage.
With general-admission tickets, guests can also head over to Kidzone, which welcomes children and former children alike with games, face painting, bouncy castles, and more. In addition to all of the benefits of general admission, VIP tents treat barbecue-lovers to comfy seating, a private open bar, a private open food buffet, private bathrooms, and an optimal vantage point for all the main-stage and meat-marinating action. VIP patrons will also receive admission to whiskey row, which offers samples of whiskeys, bourbons, and single-malt scotches as well as the opportunity to vote for libations created by men, women, and aliens posing as men and women during the people's choice cocktail contest.
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Tucson Taco Festival
The weekend before Cinco de Mayo, The Tucson Taco Festival pits 25 teams of taco craftsmen, ranging from amateurs to local restaurateurs, against each other in pursuit of a $5,000 prize as they feed thousands of attendees. Sporting Lucha Libre wrestling masks and working inside intricately decorated booths, the teams collectively produce 30,000 tacos, accompanied by sides such as salsa, guacamole, and more than 30 premium tequila brands. Meanwhile, bartenders rev their blenders in a margarita-making challenge, and visitors show off their ability to ingest spicy food without first ingesting an air conditioning unit during a hot-pepper eating contest. Live music from El Camino Royale and Shrimp Chaperone spurs bodies into motion, while youngsters can stop by the Kids Zone for festive face paint or a jaunt in the bouncy castle.