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Sizzling secrets to mastering the 2017 Wildwood BBQ Bash – Sept. 22-24

By: Jessica Meszaros

The annual Wildwood BBQ Bash will return for its 13th year with a new location, new events and even more booths. The event is presented by St. Louis Home Fires and spans the weekend of Sept. 22-24.

For well-seasoned aficionados and novice tasters, here are some tips and tricks to help BBQ Bash attendees prepare for a weekend of food, competitions, demos and live music.

Exterior of STLCC – Wildwood [Photo courtesy of Gina Tarte]

NEW LOCATION: This year’s event will be held at the St. Louis Community College – Wildwood campus, located at 2645 Generations Drive.

According to Frank Schmer, St. Louis Home Fires owner and organizer of the BBQ Bash, the event’s new location is about 30 percent larger than its former location at the heart of Wildwood’s Town Center.

NEW PARKING: The event now offers nearby paid parking.

Parking is available for $10 per car on the STLCC east lot and the Wildwood YMCA lot. The STLCC east lot is accessible from Generations Drive.

Parking and free shuttle service are available Friday and Saturday at Living Word United Methodist Church and New Community Church. Parking on Sunday is available at Lafayette High only.

EXPANDED SHUTTLES: According to Gary Crews, Wildwood’s superintendent of parks and recreation, the shuttle schedule has expanded for 2017 and will run the entire weekend.

Shuttles will make stops at Living Word UMC, 17315 Manchester Road; and New Community Church, 16801 Manchester Road on Friday and Saturday. For the awards ceremony and limited vendor hours on Sunday, the only shuttle stop will be Lafayette High, 17050 Clayton Road.

The Wildwood Police Department will have officers patrolling the stops to help with traffic flow and provide direction.

Friday Shuttle Hours: 5-11 p.m.

1. Living Word United Methodist Church
2. New Community Church

Saturday Shuttle Hours: 6 a.m.-12:30 a.m.

1. Living Word Methodist Church
2. New Community Church

Sunday Shuttle Hours: 6 a.m.-6:30 p.m.

1. Lafayette High


While the location and paid nearby parking might be new, the Bash continues to offer family-friendly activities along with great food from a variety of vendors, including pitmasters.

Here’s where to find your favorite vendors

Eating is the primary focus of the event, and the Bash hosts a few friendly competitions.

The Nationwide Insurance/Lanham Agency Ice Cream Eating Contest will be held at 11:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Saturday. This kids-only event is free and features on-site registration at the Lanham Agency booth [#18].

Also on Saturday, the Chicken Wing Eating Contest is at 6:15 p.m. This free event, geared toward adults, features on-site registration. Prizes will be awarded to winners.

2017 BBQ Bash Map

For the kids, an inflatables area is available on the campus’ south lot.

As in previous years, the event also features fireworks following a finale by Saturday headliner, The Bottle Rockets.

Bash offers plenty of music

In addition to The Bottle Rockets, the Bash’s live musical entertainment includes Drake White and The Big Fire, who take command of the main stage on Friday. Rounding out the entertainment are Bash favorites: Funky Butt Brass Band, Kingdom Brothers, the Boudin Brothers, School of Rock and Cree Rider.


New to 2017 are cooking demos by Mike Johnson and Christina Fitzgerald of “Sugarfire” and David Sandusky from Beast Craft BBQ Co.

Exterior of “Sugarfire Smokehouse.”

Johnson and Fitzgerald were raised in St. Louis but learned fine French cuisine before sinking their teeth into the BBQ scene. Johnson previously worked with stars like Emeril Lagasse, Charlie Trotter and Joachim Splichal. He has appeared on Destination America’s “BBQ Pitmasters” and on Food Network’s “Beat Bobby Flay.”

Fitzgerald graduated top of her class at L’Ecole Culinaire in Ladue and was cast in Season 11 of “Food Network Star.” She also has participated in multiple American Culinary Federation competitions. In July, she and Johnson opened a new eatery in the Hi-Pointe Drive-In off of McCausland Avenue.

The couple expects to open a seventh Sugarfire location this fall, but both find time to attend competitions across the globe, from Memphis to Paris and even Australia.

Before Sandusky opened his award-winning Beast Craft BBQ Co. in September 2014, he previously worked on the fine-dining circuit in places like Hilton St. Louis at the Ballpark and The Chase Park Plaza. After abandoning fine-dining in 2007, Sandusky served as director of operations for Bully’s Smokehouse and Doc’s Smokehouse. He currently co-hosts the “Budweiser Big BBQ Show” on KTRS 550.

The BBQ demos take place in front of the main stage near the west entrance and are free to attend.

Also on-site for the entire weekend is Hardcore Carnivore Jess Pryles [see related article] who is taking America by storm after making a barbecue name for herself in her native Australia.

Meet Hardcore Carnivore Jess Pryles

For the first time, St. Louis Home Fires has partnered with the Steak Cookoff Association [SCA] for a class on how to professionally judge the quality of steak. Classes are scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 21 at STLCC-Wildwood and cost $85 per person, which includes a one-year SCA membership. For more information and to register, visit www.steakcookoffs.com.

Steak Cookoff debuts at the BBQ Bash

In association with the SCA, the Bash also features its first Steak Cookoff Competition on Friday, Sept. 22. Class attendees can participate as competition judges and help award cash prizes.


Some items are prohibited from the event venue to ensure patron safety and enjoyment.

STLCC-Wildwood is a tobacco free campus. Additionally, firearms, weapons and glass containers are prohibited. Pets also are prohibited from attending the Wildwood BBQ Bash, although service animals are allowed.

Beverages and food can be purchased from multiple vendors on-site; however, attendees are not allowed to bring outside alcohol and personal coolers to the event.

For those wanting to stay and enjoy the music on one of the campus’ lawns, attendees are advised to bring blankets for sitting upon.

In the event of an emergency, Metro West Fire Protection District and the Wildwood Police Department have command posts on-site.

According to Michael D. Thiemann, Metro West’s coordinator of emergency management, the first-aid area will be located inside the college to manage emergencies and other issues; however, the college will be closed during the Bash weekend.

Area nonprofits benefit at the BBQ Bash
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