The 23rd annual BBQ on the River raised more money in 2017 than any previous year. Thirty-five contestants and 35 participating food establishments fed between 40,000 and 50,000 celebrants and raised $515,635 for various charities.

The event raised $484,952 in 2016.

Speaking of why 2017 was so successful, David Boggs, director of the festival, said, "It was a lot of things. The participants worked really hard to put out great product, and the weather was unbelievable. We can't really take credit for the weather, but we'll take credit for the weather."

BBQ on the River was very active on social media prior to the event, said Boggs, and the festival was lucky because Melissa Cookston, famous pit master and restauranteur, gave cooking demonstrations onsite after asking to participate in BBQ on the River. Boggs said he was suprised the event was on Cookston's radar.

The top three money-raising contestants were Tilford's Q Krew, which raised $31,010 for Easter Seals West Kentucky; Buzzard Brother BBQ, which raised $21,111 for St. Nicholas Foundation; and River City Rib Ticklers, which raised $20,168 for Laurel Foundation.

The top three food vendors were WKYQ, which raised $15,312 for The Way of Wellness; the Cartel, which raised $12,500 for Paducah Art House Alliance; and Community Christian Academy, which raised $12,436 for Community Christian Academy.

Boggs said one of the reasons the festival is so popular is because the public is able to sample the BBQ of the contestants.

The mission of BBQ on the River is threefold: to serve the best BBQ in the world, to raise the most money for charity and to draw the largest crowd in downtown Paducah.

The festival will try to adhere to its mission at this year's event, Sept. 27-29.

More information is available at or by calling Boggs or Susie Dawahare Coiner at 270-534-5951.

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