I’m an Oregon girl, but I’m also married to a man from Kansas City, which means BBQ holds a special place in my heart. So when I was invited to be a guest judge at the annual BBQ, Blues & Brews by the Bay in North Bend, I didn’t hesitate to say yes.

The KCBS-sanctioned three-day event is one of few in Oregon and draws more than 30 competitors from around the country, which means that you have a rare opportunity to taste some of the best lip-smacking BBQ in the state.  I spent the weekend judging some of the best chicken, ribs, pork and brisket I’d ever tasted, but here’s a secret: you don’t have to be a judge to try it for yourself. The competitors put out samples of all kinds on Saturday – not just BBQ but also baked beans, meatballs and other goodies. On Sunday, you can sample the same delicious BBQ they submit to the judges, along with samples from the mac ‘n’ cheese challenge (my personal favorite).

And there is no better pairing for BBQ than craft beer. A $10 passport gets you beers from the more than 20 craft breweries from the Northwest that attend the event – and at the end, you get to vote for your favorite.

It all happens over Memorial Day weekend at the Mill Casino, with live music playing outdoors and the backdrop of beautiful Coos Bay. I love spring on the Oregon Coast, so once I’d had my fill of BBQ I took the opportunity to drive the Cape Arago Scenic Loop.  The route connects three of the most stunning state parks in Oregon:  Sunset BayShore Acres and Cape Arago. There are hiking trails, beautiful Cape Arago Lighthouse, seal and seal lion viewing and amazing cliff-side viewpoints of the Pacific Ocean.  And no visit to Coos Bay is complete without at least one visit to Sharkbites Café for their legendary fish tacos and hand-squeezed margaritas (confession: on this trip, I made two visits).

BBQ, Blues & Brews returns May 23-25, 2014 to the Mill Casino in North Bend with the addition of legendary blues artist Big Pete Pearson. For more information, check out the Oregon’s Adventure Coast website.

About the Author: Emily Forsha

Emily Forsha is Travel Oregon’s content editor and a runner, hiker and biker of many Oregon trails. When she’s not road tripping around the state with her husband and two little boys, this proud native Oregonian is cooking up new recipes in her kitchen, sampling the latest craft brews and cheering on her beloved Oregon Ducks.

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  1. rickcandee says…

    this is going to be a real good event nothing like blues BBQ beer and more blues and I suggest go out on the Cape and look at the beautiful beaches

    Written on May 16th, 2014 / Flag this Comment
  2. Bill says…

    This event was a total rip off. Food gone by 3 in the afternoon… Huge lines waiting to get into the beer garden while tribal cops were carding patrons in their 50′s, 60′s and 70′s. Better places to spend money in
    Coos Bay/North Bend

    Written on May 24th, 2014 / Flag this Comment
  3. katherine says…

    Sorry you were disappointed Bill, I’ll be sure to pass your comments on the event organizers as they try to improve the event every year.

    I had a great time, but I’ve been in prior years so I knew to go early, there are two vendors that sell bbq the entire day but as for the 30 competitors, they serve until they run out and then turn their focus to the competition on Sunday. The line into the beer garden was long but once you have your bracelet you can come and go as you please. I would suggest getting your bracelet at the outdoor beer vendors and you can avoid the long lines next time. Or better yet, I’m sure the organizers will work hard on improving each year so this problem doesn’t repeat itself.

    Sincerely, Katherine Hoppe, Coos Bay-North Bend Visitor & Convention Bureau

    Written on May 26th, 2014 / Flag this Comment
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