If there’s one consolation during the scorching, often unbearably humid days of summer, it’s the prospect of being outdoors with friends and family, swapping stories and enjoying a cold beverage as a huge variety of food cooks on a nearby grill, filling the air with the mouthwatering aroma of a good old-fashioned barbecue.
Here, on Fourth of July weekend, LIFE.com offers up a selection of photographs celebrating one of the season’s time-honored traditions: the picnic and barbecue, or barbeque, or BBQ. However you spell it, it still translates as “delicious.”
Liz Ronk, who edited this gallery, is the Photo Editor for LIFE.com. Follow her on Twitter @lizabethronk.