Ah, Memorial Day... The last weekend in May marks the beginning of summer, and the unofficial way to celebrate is by firing up the grill and popping open a cold brew. Cooking outdoors is a seasonal joy that takes many forms, from backyard BBQ with hamburgers and hotdogs to clambakes on the beach and everything in between. However, as fans of TLC's "BBQ Pitmasters" know, the real glory of American BBQ goes to southern style smoked meats accompanied by delectable homemade sauce.
Across the country on Memorial Day weekend, the BBQ tradition carries on in regional and national barbeque competitions and festivals, so wherever you'll be spending the long weekend, there's bound to be a smoker near you. We combed the calendars of the governing bodies of barbeque (Kansas City Barbeque Society, International Barbeque Cookers Association, and the National Barbecue Association) to put together this list of the nation's top Memorial Day cook-offs. These gatherings go above and beyond throwing meat on the fire; most feature family-friendly activities, judged cook contests, live music, and treats from local vendors. Get ready to loosen your belt a few notches because there's more than enough 'Q to go around!