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Hava NaGrilla Kosher BBQ Charity Festival and Competition Returns June 23

Stiff barbecue competition? Check. Family fun? Check. Watermelon 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 third year on Sunday, June 23 in Wynnewood. The popular event features a serious barbecue competition, as well as live music, plenty of family fun, food vendors, and even a watermelon 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 to give back. Admission to the event is free this year, but donations will be accepted at the gate to support homeless veterans, as well as area food banks through 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! Plus, sample chili from 20 different competitors and vote for your favorite chili for the People’s Choice Award!



Hava NaGrilla has thousands of visitors each year, and it is 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, when discussing the turnout.


In addition to the stiff barbecue competition, there is plenty of fun to be had. The event features activities like an obstacle course, athletic challenges, vendors, local community organizations, and a mechanical bull that adjusts to the rider’s ability, so even kids can ride! Plus, new for this year are four kids’ rides including two special trampoline harness rides, the Orbitron, a huge moon bounce, and a kiddie car ride. The playground will also be open for the kids to run around.


Aside from barbecue, there will be food available to purchase, from seven different food vendors, including the 2017 NYC Brisket Champion “Wandering Q” with smoked brisket, turkey legs, lamb, and sausages. Philadelphia’s own spectacular smoke barbecue pitmaster Jeff Klein of Jake’s Kosher BBQ will also be there, offering his Kansas City style pulled brisket sandwiches, chicken wings, and sausages. There will also be a food vendor selling vegetarian options for your non-carnivorous companions.


For dessert, smoothies and water ice will also be available to purchase. For grownups, there is a premium scotch and bourbon tasting table, as well as a craft beer garden. There will also be a special kids’ food court with favorites like chicken nuggets and juice boxes.


The event will also have live music all day, including Jewish bluegrass, and DJ music as well. Last but not least, there’s also a watermelon eating contest! Kids and adults are welcome to dig in and compete.


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, June 23, from noon—4 pm at Temple Beth Hillel-Beth El, located on 1001 Remington Road in Wynnewood. Admission is free; food, alcohol, and certain activities are pay-as-you-go. For a donation of $10 or more, you will get (on a first-come-first-serve basis ) a baseball cap with the Hava NaGrilla logo. Donations go to very worthy causes, so wear that hat with pride!


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