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Gatlin's BBQ is just one of the 20 barbecue joints lined up for this year's festival. 

Last year's Houston Barbecue Festival was a little chilly and a little rainy, but that didn't keep the crowds away from the wildly successful event organized by noted Houston 'cue hounds J.C. Reid and Michael Fulmer. Now in its third year, the annual festival is welcoming a few new faces to its roster of local talent, including Blood Bros. BBQ, the popular pop-up barbecue venture from Glitter Karaoke owners Robin and Terry Wong and their friend Quy Hoang, who is also frequently found manning Wednesday steak nights at the Midtown karaoke joint.

In addition to Blood Bros. BBQ and the 19 other barbecue outfits lined up to smoke out this year, the festival organizers are also bringing in experts of a different stripe: staff from Texas A&M University's BBQ Genius Counter, who will be on hand to answer questions about all things barbecue. And though he's not a local, the festival will once again be welcoming honorary Houstonian Wayne Mueller of the famed Louie Mueller Barbecue in Taylor and his family's Central Texas-style barbecue.

As with previous years, the Houston Barbecue Festival plans to spotlight more than just the Central Texas style, which places more emphasis on the smoked meat than the sauce. East Texas style, by comparison, can be found at the festival from Blake's BBQ and Burgers while Mexican-style barbacoa can be found at Gerardo's and Carolina-style pulled pork can be found at Oak Leaf Smokehouse.

Tickets for this year's event, which will be held at NRG Park in the green lot on Sunday, April 26 from 1 to 5 p.m., are on sale now for $50. That general admission ticket gets you both entry to the festival as well as unlimited barbecue samples. If you want to skip the lines and get in an hour early at noon, upgrade to a VIP ticket for $100 (it also includes a drink ticket and a T-shirt). Be warned, however: just like good barbecue, these tickets go fast, so get them while you can.

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