So is this your first time to go to the Jack? It’s mine too! I’m seriously going to be like a kid at Christmas when I arrive. I have had this date circled on my calendar for quite some time now. Again, another big huge shout-out to my friend Jay Prince for allowing me to tag along on this trip.
There is a great article by Rod Gray of Pellet Envy talking about the must-do things for a first-time competitor at the Jack. But what about the fan attending for the first time? What should he or she do? Well I’ve asked Rod to provide his insight, and he has gladly done so!
A unique thing about the Jack is that teams are asked to pass out samples of their turn-in meat to the public. If they do not, a Jack Daniels representative will visit the team’s site to collect the leftover meat to distribute to volunteers. This presents a unique opportunity for the public to sample competition quality barbecue. But, please, be courteous. If you aren’t completely stuffed on samples, some of the best barbecue vendors in the country are available to serve some downright tasty food. If you leave the Jack hungry, it’s your own fault!
Another unique aspect of this competition is that all of the judging takes place in an open air pavilion complete with bleacher seating for spectators. This allows the public to get a glimpse of how the judging process works and sneak peeks at the ways that teams present their entries. It gets especially entertaining during the dessert turn-in, with multitudes of elaborately created desserts. Often international teams will decorate their entries to represent their countries, giving this contest a level of opulence and flair rarely seen at a barbecue competition!
See the Square
The focus is on the contest and the barbecue. However, don’t forget to check out the town square. Located just a stone’s throw from the competition, the square includes the Lynchburg Hardware Store. Anything Jack related can be found in this two-story shop of logo’d goodies!
Do the Tour
Get over to the visitor’s center and sign up to take a tour of the distillery. You’ll be glad you did. If at all possible, request a gentleman named David Roper (lovingly known as Porky to his friends) to be your tour guide. While his tours may be longer, they are also the most entertaining. Unfortunately, the Jack Daniels distillery is located in a dry county. So the only thing you’ll be tasting at the end of the tour is some homemade lemonade.
Don’t Stress the Crowds
Everyone in the area understands the magnitude of this event. Luckily shuttles are organized to transport you from the high school and other large lots on the town edges into the heart of Lynchburg, TN.
I want to give a big thank you to Rod Gray of Pellet Envy who passed this information on to me. As many of you know, Pellet Envy is one of the premier teams on the competition BBQ circuit. They have amassed over 60 grand championships, been a top nationally ranked team for the last eight years, and have participated in the Jack five times since the team’s inception in 2001.