Here are the first few events of the 2009 season.
• Red, White and BBQ, Westmont, Il – May 23 and 24
• Main Street BBQ, Blues and Cruise, Taylorsville, IL – May 29 & 30
• Flat Branch BBQ in the Park, Mowequa , IL – June 5 & 6
• Elk Grove Rotary Ribfest, Elk Grove Village, IL – June 19 & 20
• Illinois State BBQ Championship, Shannon, IL – July 10 & 11
A Google search on the event name will usually get you more info including the exact location.
For all of these events, the first evening is the best time to socialize since we usually don't start cooking until 8 or 9. We're usually on site by noon and have everything set up by 2:00 or so. We do some trimming and seasoning of the meat during that afternoon and usually build our turn in boxes that evening, but we also have time to sit and have a beer and talk. On the second day we start turning in meat to the judges at noon and we'll be done with turn ins by 1:30. During that time we'll have some food to sample but we'll also be very busy. A lot of the other teams also give out samples during this time as well, so if you want to try the different team's food this is a good time, but please remember that all of the teams are very busy and probably wont have time to answer question. Visitors are welcome at any time but will be running around like nuts from about 11:00 on the second day until 1:30 so please don't be offended if we don't have time to sit and talk. After 1:30 we'll be cleaning up and waiting for the awards ceremony. Everyone is always welcome to help with the cleanup and pack up :) We're usually done packing by the time the awards are announced and back on the road shortly after they are over (usually by 5:00pm).
There will be more competitions throughout the summer and early fall and I'll update the schedule as we get closer to those events. I think the only other event in the Chicago area is in October at Lambs Farm in Libertyville.