Art + Soul Oakland Kicks Off with Smokin’ Hot BBQ Competition

Acclaimed Oakland Chef Tanya Holland to Share BBQ Secrets at 14th Annual Festival

Pit masters and barbecue buffs will go head-to-head at the inaugural Oaktown Throwdown BBQ competition presented by Kingsford® charcoal on Saturday, August 2, at the City of Oakland’s 14th Annual Art + Soul festival. Thirty-five professional and backyard grill masters hailing from all over Northern California will compete for cash prizes and the coveted title of “Grand Champion” at this sold-out cook-off.

Sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbeque Society and a California BBQ Association “Team of the Year” event, the competition will include “You-Be-the-Judge” People’s Choice Awards. From 1:30 – 4:30 p.m., festival-goers can sample hot-off-the-grill bites from seasoned professionals — including local restaurateur Chris Pastena who will be serving samples from his whole hog roast — and vote for their favorite (small sampling fee; while supplies last). Festival-goers can find out who smoked the competition at the Oaktown Throwdown awards presentation at 5:00 p.m. on the Jefferson Street Stage.

“The Oaktown Throwdown is proving to be an instant success,” said Tracy Allen, Business Membership Coordinator for the California Barbecue Association. “Oakland’s BBQ history, growing reputation as a food town and exciting amenities are definitely a draw. Many competitions work for years to attract this many teams.”

At 2:45 p.m., Oakland Mayor Jean Quan will present Oakland’s own barbecue master and award-winning chef Tanya Holland with a Key to the City on the Jefferson Street Stage. Named “California Chef of the Year” for her successful restaurants Brown Sugar Kitchen and B-Side BBQ, Holland is being honored for her contributions that have helped put Oakland on the culinary map. She will share barbecue secrets, and give a sneak peak of her highly anticipated new cookbook Brown Sugar Kitchen: New-Style Down-Home Recipes from Sweet West Oakland (Chronicle Books). Food & Wine, Travel & Leisure, and Ebony have all included B-Side BBQ on their ‘best barbecue in America’ lists. Zagat Guide rated B-Side BBQ the highest score of any barbecue restaurant in the entire Bay Area.

History reveals a rich barbecue tradition in Oakland. Early references to barbecue establishments date back to the 1940s when African Americans from the southeast began coming to the Bay Area in search of jobs in the local shipyards, bringing their favorite foods with them.

Among those who helped pioneer the local barbecue scene was Dorothy Everett. Originally an employee of Jenkins Original BBQ stand in West Oakland, Everett, who passed away in 2007, launched her own empire in 1973. With daughter Dorothy King now at the helm, Everett and Jones continues to operate four restaurants in the Bay Area. Mayor Quan will also present Ms. King with a Key to the City honoring her family’s role in Oakland’s barbecue history at 4:45 p.m. on the Jefferson Street Stage.


Saturday’s Oaktown Throwdown BBQ Competition presented by Kingsford® charcoal is fittingly paired with non-stop live blues on the main stage. Produced by the Bay Area Blues Society, the powerful lineup features scores of blues legends including Alabama Mike, Twice As Good, Caravan of All-Stars and a rocking finale set by Bay Area blues great Tommy Castro and The Painkillers. A Gospel Showcase, presented by the famed Edwin Hawkins and A Community of Unity, brings soaring voices in praise while YAK to the Bay’s Turf & All Styles Dance Battle mesmerizes festival-goers. Rounding out the day is a not-to-be-missed 3:00 p.m. performance by world-renowned vertical dance pioneers BANDALOOP performing on and off the wall at Oakland City Hall.

Art + Soul continues on Sunday, August 3  with a Funk & Latin Dance Party featuring old school favorites Lakeside, Rose Royce and Dazz Band plus 2014 Latin Grammy® winners Pacific Mambo Orchestra and Latin/Afro-Cuban supergroup Alta California.  Turning up the heat even more are the All Styles Dance Contest produced by Oakland’s Dance-A-Vision and a preview of local competitors from the upcoming National Poetry Slam taking place in Oakland August 5-9. Sunday will also feature the festival’s first-ever Hot Rod & Vintage Car Show plus performances by a cavalcade of Oakland rising stars including T Sisters, Jennifer Johns and Ensemble Mik Nawaooj. 

Art + Soul encompasses 10 city blocks in and around Frank H. Ogawa Plaza and City Center. In addition to great live music, the event features artisan booths, food vendors and the ever-popular Family Fun Zone. Launched in 2001, the festival has helped fuel the growth of downtown Oakland as a nationally recognized dining destination and arts & culture hotspot.

The 14th Annual Art + Soul Oakland runs from noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday, August 2, and Sunday, August 3. Tickets at the gate will cost $10 for adults and $7 for seniors (65+) and youth (13-17). Children 12 and under enjoy free admission to the festival.

Art + Soul Oakland 2014 is produced by the City of Oakland in association with the East Bay Express.

Major sponsors include Shock Top Lemon Shandy™, Lowe’s, Kingsford, Autocom Infiniti of Oakland and Nissan of Oakland, McDonald’s, The San Francisco Foundation and KBLX 102.9 FM, in addition to KTVU Fox 2, KICU TV 36, Clear Channel Outdoor, Oakland Magazine, Post Newspaper Group, Yelp, Downtown Oakland Association, Lake Merritt/Uptown Association, Oakland Marriott City Center, Courtyard Oakland Downtown, Visit Oakland and the National Poetry Slam.

For more information, visit or call (510) 444-CITY.

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