Prove That You DO Know Jack at the World Barbecue Championship in Lynchburg



Over 25,000 people and 70 competition barbecue teams will descend upon the tiny town of Lynchburg on Saturday, Oct. 27, for the Jack Daniel's World Championship Invitational Barbecue. The event, which is known in 'cue circles as simply "The Jack," draws championship teams from the United States and international teams from as far away as Switzerland, Germany, Australia, Estonia, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Canada, Poland, Aruba, Puerto Rico, Norway and Denmark. The teams will compete in seven categories — Pork Ribs, Pork Shoulder/Butts, Beef Brisket, Chicken, Dessert, Cook’s Choice and Jack Daniel’s Sauce, with the overall winner taking home the coveted title of Grand Champion in what many competitors call the world’s most prestigious barbecue competition.

Here are some more official details:

To qualify, domestic teams must have won a state championship with a minimum of 25 teams entered, or a competition with more than 50 teams battling in the categories of Pork Ribs, Pork Butts, Chicken and Beef Brisket. The final competitors are then selected during a blind drawing of all eligible teams in early September. The 2011 Jack Daniel’s Grand Champion, Smokin’ Hoggz, and the current season’s Memphis in May, American Royal Open and Houston World’s Championship Bar-B-Que grand champions receive automatic invitations.

Other activities include original games such as the Country Dog Contest, Butt Bowling, and Bung and Bag Toss competitions. Games begin at 11 a.m. Saturday and continue throughout the day. Free tours of the Jack Daniel Distillery from the Visitor Center will also be available from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Barbecue judging starts at 11:30 a.m., and the awards presentation will take place at 5 p.m.

Admission to the 24th Annual Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitational Barbecue is a voluntary donation to the Moore County schools. For more information, please call (931) 759-6930.

I was invited to judge the event last year, and I can testify that it was one of the most overwhelming eating experiences I've ever had. Unlike other competitions, there's really no bad food entered. This means that instead of a 1-9 scale, you're really splitting hairs between 7's, 8's and 9's. In addition to the quality of the entries, the sheer quantity is unbelievable.

The Cook's Choice category is one of the first to be judged, and there's really no limit to how over-the-top the competitive chefs can be with their presentations. Can you imagine how hard it was to take a only single bite of one of the most delicious ribeyes I ever tasted and to just nibble at an amazing schnitzel? But the knowledge that I still had over two pounds of meat waiting to be judged (and that is if you just take one bite of each entry) necessitated passing the plates after only sampling enough to adequately judge.

Pro user tip: If you know somebody who's judging, they often pass leftovers through the fence around the judging pavilion. Wear a Nashville Scene shirt and look for me!

After all the mandatory meat categories have been judged, contestants turn in one last round of decadent, rich desserts to the moaning and groaning judges. We take our responsibilities seriously though, since this is an officially sanctioned KCBS championship event, so every dish must be tasted and judged. I can only imagine how entertaining it is to watch tables full of judges eat their way to oblivion, but the entire event is definitely worth the trip.

If this sounds like fun to you, the KCBS will be holding certified judging classes as part of The Jack. You probably won't get to judge the main event right away, but there are lots of events just about every weekend that are looking for qualified judges. To find out more about the class, visit the KCBS website.

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