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Hava NaGrilla Kosher BBQ Charity Festival and Competition Returns August 26

Stiff barbecue competition? Check. Family fun? Check. Pickle eating contest? Check! Here’s the scoop on Hava NaGrilla!

Hava NaGrilla

The largest kosher charity barbecue festival in the country—Hava NaGrilla—is returning for its second year on Sunday, August 26 in Wynnewood. The popular event features a serious barbecue competition, as well as live music, plenty of family fun, food vendors, and even a pickle eating contest!


A play on “Hava Nagila,” this event promotes the spirit of that joyful song by celebrating and strengthening community. Not only does Hava NaGrilla bring together thousands of people for a fun and delicious day, but it also is for a great cause. Proceeds benefit the Jewish Relief Agency, which serves over 6000 diverse low-income individuals across Greater Philadelphia through food distribution and community outreach.


The event will feature 20 barbecue teams competing under the competition guidelines of the Kansas City Barbeque Society—this is serious business—and also the scrutiny of the kosher supervisors Keystone K. The teams compete to win in four categories: ribs, turkey, chicken, and brisket. Trophies will be awarded by celebrity chefs; and, more importantly, master griller bragging rights will be earned!



Last year, Hava NaGrilla had 4500 festival visitors, and it was certainly not limited to the Jewish community. “It looked like the lobby of the United Nations,” described Dr. Stuart Gordon, the founder and organizer of the event.


In addition to the stiff barbecue competition, there is plenty of fun to be had. The event features activities like face painting, balloon artists, a bouncy obstacle course, an interactive kids’ science fair hosted by Nature Jack, craft vendors, local community organizations, and a mechanical bull that adjusts to the rider’s ability, so even kids can ride!


Aside from barbecue, there will be food available to purchase, from vegetarian vendors to treats from Sweet Trading Company like water ice, a “crazy color cotton candy station,” and more. For grownups, there is a premium scotch and bourbon tasting table, as well as a cocktail bar with drinks like the “Moscow Mohel” (their pun game is truly on point). There will also be a special kids’ food court with favorites like chicken nuggets and juice boxes. Hava NaGrilla has taken steps to ensure visitors’ comfort, from a special baby changing tent to a senior rest area.


The event will also have live music all day by popular Jewish a cappella group Six13, rock band The Dead Flowers, and Baal Shem Tov featuring Rabbi Menachem Schmidt, who Gordon tells us “plays a mean guitar, he’s like a Jewish Jimi Hendrix!”


Last but not least, there’s also a pickle eating contest! How many pickles can you eat in four minutes? Last year the winner ate 15! If you think you have what it takes, reserve one of 20 spots (for $20 entry fee) and compete for the ultimate trophy (with a pickle on top, obviously).


It’s sure to be a fun, unique, and delicious day to share with friends and neighbors. “I do this for the community,” Gordon says. “There’s nothing better than smoked brisket, craft beer, bourbon, and fun in the sun.”

Hava NaGrilla will be held on Sunday, August 26, from noon—5 pm at Temple Beth Hillel-Beth El, located on 1001 Remington Road in Wynnewood. Tickets are $10 per person, or $20 per family; food is pay-as-you-go. There is limited street parking, but there will also be shuttle vans and buses at Kaiserman JCC (45 Haverford Road, Wynnewood), which is just a five minute ride away from the festival. The parking shuttle starts running at 11:40 am.


Photographs courtesy of Stuart Gordon.


Contributing Writer