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BBQ Tour Stop #25 - The Jack

October 28, 2009
Chris and I learned last year that time flies at the Jack Daniel's World Championship Invitational Barbecue so we scheduled an extra day in the tiny one-stoplight town of Lynchburg Tennessee. We were able to catch up with old friends and enjoy life in the hollow before the town grows from a population of 361 to tens of thousands for the 21st annual contest, affectionately known as the “Jack”.

We loaded into the hollow of Lynchburg on Wednesday afternoon and saw our friends Tommy and Lisa of Checkered Pig, Big Mo from Aho, John and Kathy with Wild Bunch Butt Burners and Rub from the Swamp Boys already set up and tidying up their cook sites. Before long, Rod with Pellet Envy, Bubba and Shannon of Bub-Ba-Q and Mike and Beth from Quau started rolling in.

Thursday morning, we headed to the Jack Daniel’s Welcome Center for a distillery tour to try to beat the incoming crowds that descend upon Lynchburg. As we were waiting for our tour with Porky, the ladies at the front desk let us know that there were available lunch reservations for Miss Mary Bobo’s Boarding House. Normally during “Jack” week, reservations are made months in advance so we promptly called the restaurant and reserved two seats. Lunch is served family style and we learned that we would be dining in the Fanning room that has ten seats. We were curious who our tablemates would be and were pleasantly surprised by the group of gentlemen and one guy from the Carolina’s, most with the last name of Stone.

Most of the 64 U.S. teams and the 18 International teams loaded onto the grounds throughout the day so I continued the tradition that we learned last year and had teams sign a Jack Daniel’s branded whiskey barrel lid. This year we saw some teams with special lids made by a newer company in town, Lynchburg Reclaimed Lumber, who engraved team logos and words on lids, shot glasses, bottles and about anything someone would want engraved. It really was a nice way to personalize and remember the Jack experience.

On Friday morning, we were surprised to see that someone had a little too much fun at our trailer. They had strewn toilet paper around our smoker/grills and the hay bales that we decorated around the stage. We think we know the culprits based upon the three sets of smaller footprints scattered around and the coincidence of three of the KCBS office ladies making the pilgrimage to Lynchburg.

The rain came and went throughout the morning and the sun even came out for a couple of minutes in the afternoon. Friday afternoon is known for the parade of teams, where the U.S. and International teams display their state or country flags and team banners. The teams walk from the hollow, through the square and to the visitors’ center to catch buses up to the “hill” overlooking the Lynchburg area.

On the hill is a beautiful Jack Daniel’s pavilion where everyone celebrates last year’s accomplishments and burn up the regrets of the prior year in a large fireplace. We enjoyed the music of a great band while eating fried chicken, beans, mashed potatoes, cornbread and Jack enhanced apples. We also enjoyed a drink or two with old and newfound BBQ friends.

Saturday morning came early and the Other White Meat Tour was already set up and cooking by 8:00 am when we arrived. No sooner than we had product samples on the table, people were lining up for goodies. Because we had less than ideal weather at the last couple of events, we had an overabundance of products and came into the Jack with a sinking feeling that we would be taking product home.

As Chris kept telling me to bring more and more product out of the trailer, I had a good feeling that we would have a blowout day. Because I was busy pre-cooking Tabasco Chipotle hamburgers and Weber Kick’n Chicken for our samples, I was not paying attention to Chris, Joshua, DD and Lisa pulling more and more product out. It wasn’t until everything was basically over that I started looking around and was pleasantly surprised at the bare floor, cabinets and countertops.

As we were setting up, Tim shows up with a couple of half pans of what looked like a sausage biscuit. After closer examination, it was the bacon explosion!! Talk about a party in your mouth. The flavors were everywhere and really set up the day for success!

One interesting thing that we saw a glimpse of last year is the number of teams who did not get an invitation helping out those that did. Some of the ones that we witnessed (knowing there are many more) were Team DoRag helping Music City Pig Pals, Early Bird BBQ and the Slabs helping I Smell Smoke, Smoky Mountain Smokers helping Big Mo From AHO and Swiggin’ Pig assisting Wild Bunch Butt Burners. These helpers did whatever was needed, especially parting the throngs of people that stood between the teams and the judges’ turn-in area.

With the Other White Meat tour right beside us, it was an interesting day. When the crowds would start to thin, one of our tours would start throwing things into the crowd, which always attracts people. Hats, T-shirts, aprons, mini Tabasco Chipotle bottles – it didn’t matter to these people what was getting tossed out. Billy even threatened to throw a bag of Kingsford into the crowd after the Grill Master competition!

Speaking of Grill Master, there was a little football game between Tennessee and Alabama that day so we thought it would be interesting to have a BAMA fan and a VOLS fan compete for the title of Grill Master at the Jack. Just about that time, Billy from DoRag was walking by. I knew he was a BBQ cook and that he was also from Tennessee (via Texas) so I snagged him as my ringer cook for the event. About a minute or two before it was time to cook, Chris looked out into the crowd and found Mike wearing a BAMA hat and knew she had her cook. Both of them did a wonderful job and the competition was as close as the football game. Unfortunately for me, the competition ended the same as the game with a big Roll Tide whoop at the end. It was a great way to end the 2009 Great American BBQ Tour, with friends and our BBQ family in the holler of Lynchburg.

Big congratulations to I Que for winning Grand Champion and Jack’s Old South for Reserve. Since this really is the best of the best from not only around the country but around the world, it is quite an accomplishment to get invited and even better to get a call to the front.

Chris and I are grateful to represent KCBS throughout our travels around the country and are so proud to be part of this organization and BBQ community. We have met so many people on this journey and count so many now as friends. Thank you Carolyn, KCBS office staff and KCBS Board for all of your kind words as we have crossed paths this year. Major kudos go to Mike, DD, Veronica and Lisa at MMA Creative for all the work and effort that goes into your work with KCBS and the Tour.

Although most of these recaps come from my hands, Chris is totally involved and has as much input into putting our experiences on paper as I do. Thank you Chris for putting up with me for the past 25 years. These last two years have been better than I could have imagined with you as my partner on the tour and in life.

Keep watching folks as next year will be even better!!! Until then, may your coals stay hot, your smoke roll blue and your meat pull cleanly off the bone. Looking forward to raising a glass in 2010!

Mike (& Chris) Peters

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