Annual Wildwood BBQ Bash canceled for 2020


Naomi Saegusa

At the 2019 annual Wildwood BBQ Bash, Charlotte's Rib from Ballwin, MO held a large booth where customers could check out all kinds of foods.

Aliyah Studt and Morgan Vehige

After long discussions held by the Wildwood City Council, the 16th annual Wildwood BBQ Bash has been canceled. 

The event originated in 2004 when seven teams competed for awards in front of the St. Louis Home Fires building in Ballwin, Missouri. Since then, the event grew to over 50 teams, with over 100 judges participating in the events. 

Awards went out for a variety of different meats and community members who attended the event could find live entertainment while eating the food from many different businesses. 

In December, the primary planner for the event, St. Louis Home Fires, pulled out of the event because the Wildwood City Council had lowered the budget from $50,000 to under $35,000. 

Planning and Parks Director for the city of Wildwood, Joe Vujnich, was optimistic about the city continuing to host the BBQ Bash, but recognized the difficulties that came along with it were too much. 

“The City budgets about $50,000 for [the event], but that amount does not include policing or other costs borne by the organizer,” Vujnich said. “With moving the event to the St. Louis Community College Campus from Towne Center, logistical costs, such as electricity, facility management and security increased.”

Vujnich also recognizes how the competitors who participated in the event will be affected.

“Certainly, the competitors are impacted, since it was a judged event and provided awards. While this event was well-loved by attendees and will be missed, the City offers over one hundred events each year as well. The City hopes everyone will find an event they love to participate in, if not many,” Vujnich said. 

Sophomore Caroline Black had attended the event multiple times in her life. Even when Black lived in O’Fallon, she would travel to Wildwood for the event just to hang out with her friends. 

“I liked how BBQ Bash brought the community together.  Everybody would come and try new food, watch bands and see the fireworks,” Black said. 

Black was disappointed to hear that the BBQ Bash had been canceled, especially entering it’s 16th year because she had looked forward to it for many of those years.

“It was sad to hear because I will miss the lemonade, barbeque, music, fireworks, all that stuff, but also just hanging out there with my friends,” she said.

However, there is still some hope for the event to be revived in years to come, so long as the community supports it and the City Council can work together to add it back onto the future calendar. 

It would take more sponsorships for the organizer and greater funding sources for the City to use to cover its expenses in order to get the event up and running again. 

In the meantime, the City Council of Wildwood still hopes that members of the community can gather together in other events. 

“The City would encourage the community to come out to another event in 2020, such as Celebrate Wildwood or others like the Arbor Day Run that benefits the Special Olympics,” Vujnich said.