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Break-out the briquettes - It's BBQ time!

Texas-style? Kansas City-style? Memphis-style? Hmmm. Dry-rub or brushed-on? Charcoal, gas or ceramic? Like dialects to a language, barbeque has numerous styles and methods that represent the cultural tastes and influences of the world's - not simply the US' - many regions. Ok, so why the labored barbecue analogy you might ask? Well, for no other reason than it's the greatest month of the calendar year in all-things-barbeque, May: National Barbeque Month. Now, the intrinsic importance of grilling is known by many a grillmaster, but in case you're in need of convincing about why a month is dedicated to recognize America's love for the delicious past time, here you go. According to a poll run by the Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association:

1. The majority of adults (58%) agree that cooking out is more fun and relaxing than dining out and beneficial for avoiding travel (58%), dress codes (57%) and crowds (56%).

2. 70% of Americans say cooking out gets them in a healthier routine, specifically by encouraging time spent outdoors instead of cooped up in the house. Outdoor cooking also encourages adults to make smarter food choices such as eating fresh rather than frozen foods (54% agreed) and cooking healthier food on the grill overall (40% agreed).

So, let me be the first to say that while you might not initially picture a rack of short ribs slathered in hickory BBQ sauce as "healthy," the experience of cooking outdoors and the social aspects that it promotes most certainly are. After all, the HPBA says so - and who are we to argue with folks who know about the best ways to kick-back and enjoy around the house?

Around the country various regions are prepping to enjoy the month of mesquite mastery in their very own ways. Here's a list of several states that are kicking-off some saucy festivals of their own this month:

Arizona: Arizona Barbecue Festival - Scottsdale - May-19-2012

Georgia: Boss Hog Cook-Off - Waynesboro - May 11-12, 2012 North Georgia Mountains Horsin' Around BBQ Showdown - Young Harris - May 26, 2012 Smoke On The Lake BBQ Festival - Acworth - May 11-12, 2012

Kansas: Brew, Blues & Bar-B-Q - Lansing - May 4-5, 2012

Kentucky: International BBQ Festival - Owensboro - May 11-12, 2012

Maryland: Naptown barBAYq - Annapolis - May 4-5, 2012

Mississippi: GCFFA BBQ Challenge - Lucedale - May 12, 2012

Missouri: Apple Blossom BBQ - St. Jospeh - May 4-5, 2012

Nebraska: North Platte Honky Tonk Barbecue Festival - North Platte - May 4-5, 2012

Nevada: Best Dam Barbecue Cook-off Competition - Boulder City - May 25-26, 2012

North Carolina: BBQ Festival on the Neuse - Kinston - May 2-5, 2012

Ohio: Berea's National Rib Cookoff - Berea - May 25-28, 2012

Oklahoma: Bixby BBQ'n Music Festival - Bixby - May 4-5, 2012

Tennessee: Bloomin' Barbeque & Bluegrass - Seiverville - May 18-19, 2012 Memphis In May - World Championship BBQ Cooking Contest - Memphis - May 17-19, 2012

Virginia: Annual BBQ @ Sedalia - Big Island - May 19, 2012

Source: BBQ Festival Directory

Hopefully one of these shindigs is near you, but if one isn't, fear not. Here are just a few of our favorite recipes for you to try out:

1. Chef Justin Wilson's famous "I garontee" Cajun BBQ Sauce Recipe 2. Chef Bobby Flay's Carolina-Style Smoked BBQ Ribs 3. Serious Eats' Memphis-Style BBQ Sauce Recipe

However you enjoy it, this is not the month to shy away from cooking BBQ for the very first time; or, if you're a weathered pro, trying out a new regional approach to round-out your BBQ cooking repertoire.

After all, no matter how you prefer your BBQ, unless you've made a career of cuisine, a world of BBQ goodness awaits for you to explore. Dig in!

Do you have a favorite grill recipe? Share it with us.

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