Chow Town

Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitation Barbecue is place to be

There is one place that every competition barbecue pitmaster wanted to be on the Oct. 4th weekend: Lynchburg, Tenn., at the annual

Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitational Barbecue


This year marked the 25th anniversary of what is known in pitmaster circles as “The Jack.”

More than 25,000 hungry people showed up to enjoy the festivities in perfect clear sky cool fall weather.

They feasted on down home Southern culinary delights: buttered grilled corn on the cob, funnel cakes, candied nuts, fried pies, kettle corn, whiskey cake, whiskey fudge, and whiskey burgers. Barbecue was available from two local barbecue joints, plus the ever-popular Texas Rib Rangers and other barbecue vendors.

Invitations to compete in the barbecue contest at The Jack are coveted. Getting that invitation is as special to barbecuers as winning their way to the Super Bowl is to our Kansas City Chiefs. Many teams aspire. Few are chosen. Teams that ultimately get an invitation to The Jack have won at least one major qualifying contest and got their name drawn from a shuffle barrel.

This year, 76 teams from 42 states were invited, plus 22 international teams from 14 countries and Puerto Rico. The from Peculiar, Mo., and TrueBud BBQ from Tonganoxie were the only Chow Town metro area teams that made the draw this year. They placed 39th and 15th respectively.

Tuffy Stone of Cool Smoke from Alexandria, Va., won Grand Champion. A Boy His BBQ from Grimes, Iowa, took Reserve Grand Champion.

To commemorate the 25th anniversary, previous Grand Champions at The Jack were invited to compete in the “Winner’s Circle.”

KC metro area teams included Chef Paul Kirk and Chef Ronaldo Camargo of Team Kansas City; Ronna Keck, Dennis Hyre, Cathy Jones, Bill Keck and Tim Lanigan of

Flower of the Flames — continuing the legacy of the late Chef Karen Putnam and husband, “Putter”; retired pitmasters Lynn and Richard Kancel of Smokin’ in the Boy’s Room, and Phil and Linda Hopkins of Smokin’ Guns. Scott and Katy Nelson of Pig Skin BBQ from Rockwell, Iowa, won Grand Champion of the Winner’s Circle.

In a nutshell, here’s what happened on Friday and Saturday:


“I Know Jack…about grillin’!” contest; parade of teams from Wiseman Park through the town square; party on Barbecue Hill for teams, judges and invited guests. The party program featured country music singers Kacey Smith and Tim Daley, followed by country music star, Keith Anderson. During an intermission, there was a special tribute to the late Silky Sullivan of Memphis, followed by the traditional burning of grievances in a sculptured metal pig named “Jasper.”


Judging of Invitational and Winner’s Circle team entries, plus a Jack Dash 7 mile Run/Walk; Butt Bowling; Bung Toss; and Country Dog Contest. The day ended with an awards ceremony.

“Everyone here is a winner. Just being here makes you a winner,” is a phrase I heard often.

That sentiment prevailed throughout Lynchburg during the entire weekend. What a fantastic way to celebrate great barbecue, community spirit, and friendship.

Ardie Davis is an iconic figure in the barbecue community. He founded a sauce contest on his backyard patio in 1984 that became the American Royal International Barbecue Sauce, Rub Baste contest. He is a charter member of the Kansas City Barbeque Society and an inductee into the KCBS’s Hall of Flame. He has been interviewed on numerous food shows and writes for a variety of barbecue-related publications. He is also the author of a number of barbecue books, His most recent release book is “America’s Best BBQ Homestyle: What Champions Cook in Their Own Backyards.”