Madison Square Park Will Not Host the Big Apple Barbecue Next Year

A large group relaxes in the 2018 Big Apple Barbecue's VIP section in the middle of Madison Square Park.

A large group relaxes in the 2018 Big Apple Barbecue's VIP section in the middle of Madison Square Park.

This past weekend, event organizers of the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party (BABBP) were told by Madison Square Park officials that the event would not take place at the park next year. The BABBP has been hosted in and around Madison Square Park for the past 16 years, so this will be a substantial change for NYC’s largest annual BBQ event.

A spokesperson from the Madison Square Park Conservancy said the primary reason for the change was that the event had “unfortunately outgrown Madison Square Park.” Additionally, here is the official statement from the organizers of the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party:

“This past weekend, the Big Apple Barbecue bid a fond farewell to Madison Square Park, its longtime host and beneficiary (to date, over $1.6 Million in funds has been raised by the event to support Madison Square Park Conservancy and the park’s programming and maintenance). ’Cue lovers, fear not – the (smoke) show will go on. In 2019, The Big Apple Barbecue will find a new home that can better accommodate all the deliciousness and growth.In the meantime, let’s raise a glass to an awesome 16-year ride in Madison Square Park. The beloved festival has evolved into one of NYC's largest outdoor events, attended by over 140,000 guests annually. Over the last decade and a half, the Big Apple Barbecue has grown organically as it has both benefited from and helped to foster love of this great American culinary tradition and thanks to the support of all those who have attended over the years.”

The event’s pitmasters, many of whom travel from other states to attend, were told of the news prior to the event. Many of the pitmasters at the event, including Chris Lilly from Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q and Justin Fox from Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q, told me they would likely come back next year as long as the event did not change too much.

It is unclear at this time where the event will be held next year. Potential options could include large piers in both Manhattan and Brooklyn, the Citi Field parking lot (which recently hosted The World’s Fare), and Randall’s Island Park (which regularly hosts Governor’s Ball, Panorama, and big concerts).

Read my full roundup of the 2018 Big Apple Barbecue Block Party, including more about what it moving could mean for the event’s future.

Sean Ludwig