Skip to content

Welcome to the West Kentucky BBQ Belt!


America’s Newest Destination
Sings The Gospel of Kentucky’s Barbeque Culture

Kentucky Tourism Welcomes The World To The West Kentucky BBQ Belt

[Henderson, KY, May 16th, 2024] – Western Kentucky, long celebrated by locals for its rich culinary heritage, introduces an entirely new destination by unveiling the West Kentucky BBQ Belt. This initiative from Kentucky Tourism aims to introduce the world to a region synonymous with mouthwatering barbecue, rivaling renowned producers like St. Louis and Memphis.

What was once widely considered the “Bar-B-Q Capital of the World” (Washington Post, 1985), pitmasters throughout the West Kentucky BBQ Belt are fired up to reclaim the stance atop America’s top BBQ regions. 

May 16th, National BBQ Day, marks the opening of the new experience, featuring 40+ BBQ joints founded by legendary pitmasters and award-winning ‘cue that locals swear by.

“These locally owned BBQ joints are steeped in tradition and guarded by families and friends for generations. The mouth-watering array of smoked mutton and ribs that have become synonymous with the region offer a truly unique experience..” – Abby Dixon, Executive Director, Henderson Tourist Commission.

“The Carolinas. Memphis. KC. Texas. We love their sauces. But we ain’t them and they ain’t us. So we’re inviting everyone from these regions to visit and try for themselves, and maybe add another notch to the belt.”

Visitors to the West Kentucky BBQ Belt can expect a journey through tradition, joining in the never-ending rivalry of Old Hickory founded in 1918 vs newcomer Moonlite Bar-B-Q, founded in 1950. Roy’s BBQ in Russellville and Thomason’s BBQ in Henderson are just a few of 40+ establishments passed down for generations and enjoyed religiously.  

“There’s nothing like the West Kentucky BBQ Belt. It’s really that simple. Imagine having fall-off-the-bone BBQ at Swaggy P’s Country Market in the epitome of an old-time country store, then driving to Paducah where they have a BBQ restaurant for every 2,500 residents, which would make it the most BBQ crazed city in the U.S.” – Tricia Noel, Executive Director, Hopkins County Tourist and Convention Commission

About West Kentucky BBQ Belt
As a newly established destination by Kentucky Tourism, created through a regional partnership of 18 cities and their DMOs, the West Kentucky BBQ Belt was developed to promote and preserve the craft of Kentucky’s unique style of barbeque, dedicating to spreading the gospel of West Kentucky BBQ. For more information visit
Destination Contact: Abby Dixon, Executive Director, Henderson Tourist Commission

About Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet
Kentucky Tourism is dedicated to fostering and promoting the state’s rich heritage as well as continuing Kentucky’s long history of being a premiere travel destination for all travelers to enjoy. For more information visit KYTAHC (
Media Contact: Kristie Wooldridge, Dir. of Communications, Kentucky Department of Tourism