Jack Daniels 25th Annual World Championship Invitational Barbecue
October 22, 2013
For 25 years, Lynchburg, Tennessee has played host to one of competition barbecues most prestigious contests – the Jack Daniels World Championship Invitational Barbecue.
Held the fourth weekend of October, the contest features grand championship winners from the US who were selected by draw in September, as well as teams from as far away as Switzerland, Germany and Australia. Gathered in the famed Jack Daniel’s Hallow, these top tier outdoor cooks will compete for the top prize in chicken, pork ribs, pork shoulder/butt, and beef brisket as well the ancillary categories of dessert, cook’s choice and sauce (featuring Jack Daniel’s, of course!).
To qualify for “The Jack,” U.S. teams must have already won a competition in which 50 or more teams participated, or they must have won a competition of at least 25 teams that has been designated a “state championship.” A drawing is then held among the qualifying teams in early September to determine the final competitors.
Last year I was fortunate enough to actually judge these top teams from around the country and the experience was second to none. While I have competed for several years, I had never actually judged a contest prior to arriving in Lynchburg. And what a way to get in on the judging game as nearly every entry was among the best I had ever tried. Though judging six categories pushed me to the limit, being able to actually play a role in deciding the best of the best was well worth a day of indulgence.
But judging wasn’t the only highlight of the weekend as I got to experience the true spirit of the Jack Daniel’s Invitational. The weekend began with a parade of teams that loops its way from the hollow through downtown Lynchburg and ending at the visitor’s center. I was also lucky enough to be invited to a dinner and informational tasting session hosted by master distiller Jeff Arnett. In addition to learning about the entire distilling process, guests were treated to an over-the-top tasting from my good friend Pat Martin of Martin’s BBQ Joint. Later that evening teams and judges assembled on Barbecue Hill for a pre-contest soiree, allowing everyone a few moments to decompress before the real work began.
And for contest visitors, there is plenty to do including such original games such as the Country Dog Contest, Butt Bowling, and Bung and Bag Toss competitions as well as the Jack Dash 7 mile run and 5k run/walk and tour of the Jack Daniels Distillery.
It was truly a memorable weekend from beginning to end and I am certain that this year’s 25th anniversary will prove to just as special as I once again don my KCBS judge’s badge in Lynchburg, TN.