A world-renowned pitmaster once said barbecue is an experience that goes beyond taste, it’s about creating memories and moments. At the annual Nisqually Valley Barbecue Rally, presented by the Yelm Chamber of Commerce, all three are at your fingertips. From 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. on Saturday, July 27, 2024, come ready to eat, dance, shop, compete, and mingle with friends and family, all while bathed in the heady smoke of grilling, charring, roasting, and slow-smoked meat.

two kids pose with a person in a white chicken suit
The free, 5th annual Nisqually Valley Barbecue Rally takes place on Saturday, July 27, 2024, at Yelm City Park. Photo courtesy: Nisqually Valley Barbecue Rally

Sign Up Now to Cook, Compete, or Sell Your Goodies at the Nisqually Valley Barbecue Rally

With this free event only a few weeks away – yes, July is just around the corner – the organizers encourage everyone wanting to participate to sign up now. Business vendor spots are still available, but they’re filling up fast. To make sure you’re on the printed map handed out to attendees, businesses need to sign up no later than June 30. Suds Sponsor levels start at just $175, but the organizing committee provides options for every size business and budget.

a youth in a rain poncho holds up a trophy and a $10 bill. A packaged pie is on the table in front of her.
Sign up now to compete, there are opportunities for all ages! From the Amateur Andy BBQ Competition team to the kids Youth Burger Challenge, pie eating contest to Youth Music Talent Show, there’s something for everyone. Photo courtesy: Nisqually Valley Barbecue Rally

Pro food vendor spots are filled for 2024 but clear your calendar for next year and show off those tasty treats. Amateur Andy BBQ Competition Teams and spaces in the Youth Burger Challenge are still open and there are amazing prizes – and bragging rights – on the line. For kiddos aged 10 to 17 thinking of signing up, act fast. There are only 10 entries in this category, sponsored by Christensen’s Home Furnishings, and cash prizes for the winners. Sign-ups for the ACU Pie Eating Contest are at the Yelm Chamber’s Info booth at the festival. Ages 5-10, 11-17, and 18+ are welcome.

Kids under 17 can also sign up for the Youth Music Talent Show. Event Chair Shelley Nicholson of Dzines Creative Solutions & Graphic Designs, encourages families to give it a try. “We have amazing prizes and a chance to get on stage and perform for your community,” she says. “We are looking for singers, musicians, and talented kids who shine in front of a crowd. This competition is the kickoff for the Barbecue Rally and starts at 10 a.m.”

two men are eating pies with no hands
Competition sign ups are still open but filling up fast. Don’t miss the opportunity to make a little extra cash showing off your skills. Photo courtesy: Nisqually Valley Barbecue Rally

Boot Scootin’ Fun, Live Music, and Barbecue-Themed Goodies Galore

Nicholson says that this year’s entertainment line-up is complete and guaranteed “to have Yelm City Park rocking all day long.” Performers include Sammy Steele, Taylor Watts, and the Borderline Dance Team.

On Friday night there’ll be a Tap the Keg event from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. for the 21+ crowd with music, games, giveaways, and food from the Grill at 507. “This is a great way to meet the Amateur Andy BBQ Competitors as many of them attend or are just outside the event preparing and smoking their meats for the competition in the morning,” Nicholson says.

And they didn’t forget the kids. There will be activities sponsored by Y.A.R.D., the Youth Athletics Recreation Department, and bouncers courtesy of the Church of Living Water. While enjoying all the food and fun, don’t forget to vote for your favorite barbecue, sponsored by Hometown Property Management, by dropping a card in their bucket for voting.

To coincide with Yelm’s centennial celebrations, there also will be special giveaways throughout the festival. Check back for times and locations and you could win handy prizes like picnic blankets and more. Visit business vendor booths for additional on-site raffles and treats.

a kid with two adults puts barbecue on a paper plate
All ages, free family fun is the name of the game at the Nisqually Valley Barbecue Rally, brought to you by the Yelm Chamber of Commerce and their centennial celebrations. Photo courtesy: Nisqually Valley Barbecue Rally

Thanks to Local Sponsors for Bringing the Community Together Once Again

Northwest Chevrolet is the Stage Sponsor (Pit Master) again this year. Uptown Lounge and 507 Taproom & Filling Station share the Beer Garden sponsorship, known as the Pit Stop. “They are an amazing team and have supported the event for years,” says Nicholson. “We love it that these two beloved businesses come together and partner to make the beer garden amazing.” Dzines Creative Solutions & Graphic Designs is the Rally’s Marketing Sponsor.

Even though there are still a few weeks to go, the day is filling up fast. The most current info can be found on the Nisqually Valley Barbecue Rally website or Facebook page. The Nisqually Valley Barbecue Rally is a fundraiser, bringing in funds for the Yelm Chamber’s many annual events. “More than half of the Chamber’s board members are on the Rally committee,” says Nicholson, and helping at the Rally is a high point of everyone’s year.

There is no smoking at Yelm City Park and all pets must be on a leash. Organizers are expecting 10,000 attendees so come early to avoid long lines and beat the crowds and consider taking the bus. Intercity Transit will be increasing bus routes to minimize parking woes. Consider parking at Yelm High School and hopping on the bus from there to avoid the rush. Clear your calendar and bring the family to make memories and moments this summer.

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