Update: The festival organizers have announced two special guest additions to the barbecue roster. Wayne Mueller of Louie Mueller Barbecue in Taylor—one of the best 'cue joints in the state, according to Texas Monthly—is bringing his legendary family's heritage to Houston for the day. Mueller took over his grandfather's 68-year-old business in 2009, and plans to haul both his barbecue trailer and award-winning beef ribs to the festival.
John Avila, the second special guest, is traveling from much further away: Brooklyn, New York. The native Texan trained with Aaron Franklin of Franklin Barbecue in Austin before moving to Brooklyn to open Morgan's Barbecue (one of the few 'cue joints we've seen that serves brunch) last year. The pitmaster also has plans to open a Houston restaurant called "El Burro and the Bull."
Last year's inaugural Houston Barbecue Festival was a success by any measure of a food fest: the lines were short, the meat was plentiful, the beer was cold, and both seating and restrooms were provided in abundance. As an attendee who didn't know any better, you could have been forgiven for thinking it was the 10th such festival that organizers Michael Fulmer and J.C. Reid put together. This makes the promise of the men's second such festival that much more promising.
Fulmer and Reid—friends, barbecue hounds, and occasional penners of barbecue prose—announced today that the second Houston Barbecue Festival will take place on Sunday, April 6, from 1 to 5 p.m. This year, the festival moves to a larger facility: Reliant Park's purple lot—not bad for its sophomore run. General admission tickets are on sale now for $50, which gets guests unlimited samples from the 16 barbecue joints who are bringing their pits, their smokers, and their wide variety of barbecue styles to the festival. As with last year, the Houston Barbecue Festival is not limiting its 'cue to just Texas-style pork ribs and beef brisket.
This year, look for Mexican barbacoa from Gerardo's, Tennessee-style barbecue from Fainmous, and modernist techniques from Killen's BBQ that would be equally at home in WD-50 or Alinea. Longtime Houston stalwarts such as Pizzitola's, Blake's BBQ, and Baker's Ribs will be on-hand, as will newer favorites such as CorkScrew BBQ, Oak Leak Smokehouse, and 'cue from Underbelly line cook and aspiring pitmaster Patrick Feges.
Proceeds from the festival go to benefit Vita-Living, a local non-profift dedicated to assisting people with lifelong, complex disabilities—both physical and behavioral. "We were looking for a partner in an under-served charitable area," said Reid. "Public funding for care of those with disabilities has decreased considerably in recent years."
In addition to general admission, VIP tickets are also currently on sale for $90. These passes provides early admission to the festival at noon along with a souvenir T-shirt and drink ticket. As with last year, expect those to sell out first—but the rest of the tickets will sell out fast, too, so grab a couple now while you still can.