Barbecue teams from around the world are preparing to “smoke, season and sear” their way to a chance to be named Grand Champion at the 26th annual Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitational Barbecue in Lynchburg on Saturday.
Judges and more than 25,000 fans are expected to join competitive barbecue’s best of the best as they compete in what is widely considered the world’s most prestigious barbecue competition.
Teams from the United States and international teams from Australia, Austria, the Bahamas, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Holland, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Puerto Rico, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom will compete in seven categories — Pork Ribs, Pork Shoulder/Butts, Beef Brisket, Chicken, Dessert, Cook’s Choice and Jack Daniel’s Sauce.
“The Jack celebrates the best of the best in competitive barbecue,” said Lynne Tolley, KCBS-certified barbecue judge and great-grandniece of Jack Daniel. “Each year, we see thousands of fans visit historic Lynchburg from around the world to give their support to The Jack.”
To qualify, domestic teams must have won a state championship with a minimum of 25 competing teams, 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 2013 Jack Daniel’s Grand Champion Cool Smoke joins the current season’s grand champion from Memphis in May, American Royal Open and Houston World’s Championship Bar-B-Que who received automatic invitations.
Other activities include original games such as the Country Dog Contest, Butt Bowling, and Bung and Bag Toss competitions. Games begin Saturday at 11 a.m. and continue throughout the day.
Barbecue judging starts at 11:30 a.m., and the awards presentation will take place at 5 p.m.
This year marks the ninth year that Memphis native and Managing Meteorologist at Memphis’ WMC-TV Ron Childers has judged the Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitational Barbecue.
“I thought I had been to the greatest barbecue competition … and then I experienced The Jack,” said Childers. “I think The Jack is one of the most amazing contests, simply because you’re judging the best of the best — not just in the country, but in the world.”
Childers started judging barbecue competitions in 1999. Four years later, when he first judged The Jack, he just knew there was something about Lynchburg.
“Lynchburg is this little town that hasn’t changed,” he said. “I’ve watched as Memphis and Nashville have evolved into the cities they are today, but to see this town that time hasn’t touched, that’s the thing that sticks out the most about The Jack.”
Childers also said he loves the festivities surrounding the competition. From the party on the Hill to the 5K run, he enjoys it all. Meeting people from all over the world who have the same passion is what makes this competition so special to him.
“The competitors really take this seriously,” he said. “There’s an art to what they do and I owe it to them to take judging seriously. The pride and honor you receive when you’re invited to judge is tremendous and humbling. The Jack is like no other competition I’ve ever been to and judging it is the highlight of my year.”
Admission to the 26th Annual Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitational Barbecue is a voluntary donation to the Moore County School system. For more information, visit www.jackdaniels.com.