The smell of barbecue filled the air in downtown Tyler on Saturday when 22 of the top barbecue restaurants in the state fired up their pits on the T.B. Butler Fountain Plaza. Five thousand people came out with their camp chairs and can coozies for the fourth annual Bud Light Red Dirt BBQ and Music Festival.

“We sold 5,000 tickets,” said Lisa Well of Town Square Media, co-coordinator of the event.

Event goers made their way around the square for samples of smoked meats from Stanley’s Famous Pit BBQ, Louie Mueller Barbecue, The Slow Bone and many others. Vendor tents lined the square to sell merchandise and pass out freebies and samples of their items. The craft beer tent featured craft brewers from across the state to include local Tyler breweries, True Vine Brewing Company and ETX Brewing.

“This is my second time coming to this,” said Rennie Russo, of Tyler. “I’m a foodie. The weather is great and the music is good. The best BBQ was Louie Mueller’s brisket.”

Live music on the main stage included Wade Bowen, Cody Canada and the Departed, Shane Smith and the Saints and Flatland Cavalry. East Texas native Cody Johnson headlined the sold-out event.

A portion of the proceeds benefits The Heart of Tyler/Tyler Main Street, a non-profit organization dedicated to the economic, cultural and historic revitalization of Downtown Tyler.

TWITTER: @LouAnnCampbell


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I started working at the Tyler Morning Telegraph in June 2016. I am a retired U.S. Air Force Sr. Master Sergeant. After a 21-year military career, in Security Forces, the military police of the Air Force, I went back to college and studied journalism.