Tag Archives: Jack Daniels World Championship Invitational

The Jack Part 2: Amazing People

Finally, the euphoria and adrenaline from being in Lynchburg last weekend is starting to subside, and now I can really start to reflect on just what transpired in the hollow.  In my last post, I attempted to portray the general overall sense of excitement and sweet smoke at the Jack Daniel’s distillery.  Today I want to tackle another aspect of the weekend — the amazing people!


Prior to this past weekend, I published a series of blogs highlighting some of the teams that would be attending the event.  This weekend gave me the opportunity to meet those teams in person, along with many others.  But first, let me give a shout-out to my travel partner Jay Prince, the tech/gadget reviewer for BBQ Sauce Reviews.  He drove the entire time and was really good company!

After doing the tour upon arrival and checking out the hardware store, we headed down to the hollow to visit the teams.  One of the first teams we spotted right away was Mike & Debbie Davis of Lotta Bull BBQ.  It is always a pleasure getting to speak with Mike & Debbie, and today was certainly no exception.  I consider Mike to be a legend in competition BBQ, and rightfully so!

Jay and I continued our walk around the competition area talking to various teams.  We got to meet TippyCanoe BBQ (winners of the 2011 American Royal Invitational and 2011 Sam’s Club National BBQ Tour), Smokey’s Competition BBQ Team (our good friends Charles and Alli of C-Dub’s BBQ Rub were competing with them), and numerous others.  We even got the chance to meet Chris Lilly of Big Bob Gibson BBQ and the Man in Black himself, Myron Mixon of Jack’s Old South.

One of the teams we enjoyed spending a lot of time with was Pork Barrel BBQ.  Brett and Heath were very gracious and gladly spent a lot of time talking to the two of us about many different subjects.  It was great seeing them again (I had the privilege of meeting Heath at a competition in Lexington, NC).  We would have stayed and chatted longer, but turn-ins drew near, and it was crunch time.  Jay was even able to snag a bottle of Que Cologne to try out.

In general, I had a great time just walking around and chatting with the teams.  They all seemed to be having a great time and enjoying the atmosphere — relishing in the moment.  I enjoyed talking with Kit Rudd of Degüello BBQ and Mike Peters of Here Piggy Piggy BBQ.  It was fun chatting with the guys from Hot Grill on Grill Action and watching Guy Fieri prepping a turn-in for Motley Que BBQ.

Another thing that I discovered while in Lynchburg was that Canadian teams are by far the friendliest teams ever!  We had the privilege of talking to all but one of the Canadian teams competing at the Jack, and every single one of them were absolutely friendly and welcoming!  I was especially excited to get to meet the Canadian teams I profiled as part of my “Teams that Do Know Jack” series.  The first team we met was DivaQ, and that was nothing but sheer awesomeness there!

In fact, we had such a great time that Danielle ended up making me an honorary Canadian for the day!



We also had the opportunity to visit with Rob Reinhardt and the team from Prairie Smoke & Spice BBQ.  With the time ticking close to turn-in, Rob was nice enough to come over and chat with us for a few minutes.  The whole team was super nice!

We also had the chance to visit with The Black Pig BBQ.  Wow!  These guys were the pure definition of friendly!  We chatted with various team members for at least a half-hour.  Even as chicken turn-in was approaching, we were taking team pictures and having a great time!

I also want to give a shout-out to Can’t Stop Grilling and Well Seasoned and the Canada Q Crew.  Thank you for taking time out to chat with Jay and myself.  We really appreciate it!

So there you go…  the mystique of the Jack is not only in the location and tradition of the competition, but also in the teams that are in the field.  I can’t wait to get back up to Lynchburg again next year!

I Survived The Jack!!!

If I had to describe this past weekend in one word, that word would be WOW!  Yes, in all caps.  It was just that awesome!  The hardest part about this trying to figure out where in the world to start.  I guess the beginning would be a good place…


The trip started at about 3am EST from Taylors, SC — near the Greenville/Spartanburg metro area.  My good friend Jay Prince and I were on the road for six hours before arriving at Lynchburg, TN.  After the fastest six hour car ride that I have ever experienced, we finally arrived at the distillery at 8am CST.  Because we arrived so early, we were fortunate enough to park at the visitor’s center.  And there to greet us was the gentleman himself!

Upon arrival, we immediately sign up for a tour and get in on the second tour of the day.  It was a good thing that we went ahead and did this, because after the tour ended around 9:30am, there was a very long line going out the visitors center!

Although the tour had to be somewhat rushed due to this being the busiest day of the year at the distillery, it was still an excellent tour.  Bruce did a great job of leading us through the hallowed grounds of the distillery, the still house, and the barrel house.  Unfortunately we did not get to sample the whiskey (with it being in a dry county), but we did get some tasty lemonade.

The population around the area really get into this event, and it is evident by the massive crowds seen dispersed throughout.  You really can’t put into words the dedication, passion, and love that locals put into this event — it’s really something that has to be experienced in person.  The layout is just amazing.

A word of advice: if you go, invest the money and purchase a commemorative whiskey barrel top.  Make sure to bring a black Sharpie marker, and take it to have the teams sign.  It makes for a great conversation piece, and it’s really cool to have teams sign it!  As you can see, the one I purchased is already on display at the office.

Whiskey Barrel Top

Oh yeah, I also got branded an honorary Canadian by DivaQ.  But I’ll tell more about that next time…

There really is so much more to tell, but I wanted to keep this brief.  Next time I will be talking about some of the teams that I had the privilege of meeting in Lynchburg!  If you’re interested in seeing some photos, you can check out the album on my Facebook page.

Teams that Do Know Jack: Lotta Bull BBQ

When you hear this team’s name, you know that you’re talking about a cornerstone in the world of competition BBQ.  It is a great thrill to feature this team in today’s “Teams that Do Know Jack” spotlight.  From the great state of Oklahoma, this is Lotta Bull BBQ.

There’s not a lot that Mike & Debbie Davis, the husband-and-wife team members of Lotta Bull BBQ, haven’t accomplished.  Their accomplishments are completely in the stratosphere!  Some of their accomplishments include:

  • 83 Grand Championships (yes, I said 83!)
  • Four-time winner of the American Royal Open
  • 1st place brisket at the 2010 Jack Daniels World Championship Invitational Barbecue
  • Consistently in the top 15 overall for KCBS Team of the Year

What really impresses me isn’t all of the accomplishments and accolades that the team has received.  Yes, those are absolutely great!  What impresses me is his great attitude and personality.  I got to speak with Mike over the phone, and I was absolutely enthralled!  He told me of how he got into BBQ, of his experience in his very first contest, and of his experiences organizing a contest.

As we spoke of many different things, I got two different feelings from the conversation.  Talking with Mike greatly reminded me of sitting with my grandfather and listening to him tell stories — I could do it everyday!  The second was a feeling of thankfulness.  With all that Lotta Bull BBQ has accomplished, Mike certainly did not have to take time out to chat with me.  Not only did he do that, he treated me like a long lost friend, and I’m grateful for that!

Mike & Debbie, I’m certainly looking forward to seeing you two again in Lynchburg!  You can find Lotta Bull BBQ on the web at http://www.lottabullbbq.com and on Facebook.   Big Wayner’s BBQ Blog wishes Lotta Bull BBQ the best of luck at the Jack Daniels World Championship Invitational Barbecue!

If you’d like to see your team featured, email me at bigwaynerbbq@gmail.com.  Don’t forget to check out these other team spotlights.!

Teams that Do Know Jack: Degüello BBQ

This “Teams that Do Know Jack” post takes us near the nation’s capital to meet our featured team.  They may only be a second-year team, but they’re on everyone’s radar!  This is Degüello BBQ!

Degüello BBQ is based out of Springfield, VA and consists of the husband and wife team of Kit Rudd (chief cook) and Sharon Rudd (garnish master).  The team name is a nod to Kit’s home state of Texas.  While many know that “Degüello” is the title of a ZZ Top album, most may not realize that the term was used by the Mexican Army to note that no quarter would be given to their enemies.  While Kit and Sharon may not BBQ to the death, they certainly are all in when it comes to making a noticeable impact on the competition BBQ circuit!

The team has experienced noticeable success right from the beginning.  In 2010, Degüello BBQ scored two 3rd place finishes overall and one reserve grand championship.  They were also named the Mid-Atlantic BBQ Association Rookie Team of the Year.

This year continued to bring success much like 2010 did for Degüello BBQ.  Kit and Sharon scored two more 3rd place finishes overall.  More importantly, they scored their first Grand Championship in Bluemont, VA.  As a result of this win, they were put into the drawing for the Jack where they were selected to represent the state of Virginia!

The team uses Weber Smokey Mountain cookers exclusively for competition cooking (two 22″ and two 18″ models).  To maintain temperature control, Kit and Sharon use a BBQ Guru CyberQ 2 and DigiQ.

Even with the early success, the team remains humble.  The team has a goal for 2012 to cook more consistently across all of the KCBS categories.  I admire that determination and drive to never be content with the current state.  Degüello BBQ has a huge potential, and they will be a major force in the coming years.

You can find the team’s website at http://www.deguellobbq.com/ as well as on Facebook.  Big Wayner’s BBQ Blog wishes Kit and Sharon Rudd of Degüello BBQ the best of luck at the Jack Daniels World Championship Invitational Barbecue!  To see your team featured on this blog, email me at bigwaynerbbq@gmail.com.

If you haven’t done so already, check out some of the past featured teams!

Teams that Do Know Jack: Hot Grill on Grill Action

Today’s “Teams that Do Know Jack” feature keeps us in the US Midwest.  About 360 miles from Springfield, MO (home of our last feature team Here Piggy Piggy BBQ) lies Omaha, NE.  It is here that four guys compete together under a team name that Robyn Medlin Lindars has dubbed one of the best BBQ team names ever.  Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Hot Grill on Grill Action.

Hot Grill on Grill Action is made up of four guys — Ryan Amys, Matt Frampton, Logan Hendrickson, and Chris Yelick.  It started in 2006 with Ryan and Matt competing in a local BBQ competition using a Weber bullet smoker and taking 1st place in chicken.  Since then, they have added the lil’ chub (custom built smoker), two team members (Logan and Chris), and revolutionized competition BBQ with their “party hard, cook hard” mentality.

The team is unique in that there is not a single person in charge.  Rather, each team member is responsible for a single category.  This approach allows each guy to concentrate on his area of expertise.  Divide and conquer.  It’s been working well.  Hot Grill on Grill Action has received the following accolades:

  • 2011 Nebraska state champions
  • Grand Champion at Riverfest: Red, White, and Q
  • Received an invitation to the American Royal Invitational
  • Appeared on Season 2 of TLC’s BBQ Pitmasters

You can always count on three things whenever this team is at a competition.  First, you can always count on them being in the hunt for the top spot in the competition rankings.  Second, you can always count on there being one hell of a party.  And finally, you can count on the presence of flabongos.  Yes, flabongos.

What’s a flabongo, you ask?  Well… it’s a flamingo lawn ornament with a hole drilled in the bottom and the end of the beak cut off so that it can serve as a drinking apparatus.  I had never even heard of flabongos until I started researching this team.  It’s a brilliant idea!

This year at the Jack, you can definitely count on a good time wherever this team is set up!  Sleep?  Eh, who needs sleep… Big Wayner’s BBQ Blog wishes Hot Grill on Grill Action the best of luck this year at the Jack Daniels World Championship Invitational Barbecue!!

Want to see your team here?  Send me an email at bigwaynerbbq@gmail.com!  In the meantime, check out the previously featured teams below:

The Fan’s Guide to the Jack: What you Need to Know

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!

Free Samples!!

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!

Judging Insight

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.

Huge THanks

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.

Teams that Do Know Jack: Here Piggy Piggy BBQ

We’re back in the United States for this edition of Teams that Do Know Jack!  Today’s spotlight shines on Springfield, Missouri, home of the wildcard entry for 2011 — Here Piggy Piggy BBQ!

Here Piggy Piggy BBQ consists of the husband and wife team of Mike and Chris Peters.  They don’t just compete, though… For those of you familiar with KCBS, you will recognize Mike and Chris as the faces of the KCBS Great American BBQ Tour.  They have been travelling around America promoting all that is good with barbeque for the last four years.

Because of their responsibilities being the face of KCBS on the Great American BBQ Tour, Mike and Chris often enlist the help of friends and family members on the competition circuit.  Even with this help, they have been lucky to be able to cook 5-6 competitions in a year.

I had the opportunity to meet Mike this past May with the tour making a stop in Charlotte for Food Lion Speed Street.  We chatted off and on for a while, and I was convinced that KCBS could have not picked a better set of people to represent them on the road.

I asked Mike for some insight into the team, and I’m grateful that he obliged.  When asked about a favorite contest to cook, Mike quickly answered with Rock’n Ribs in their hometown of Springfield, MO, where their best finish was 3rd overall (behind QUAU by .0002).  This year, Here Piggy Piggy BBQ cooked in Springfield, MO and shared a cook with Warren DeBry in Worland, WY.

Their lucky weekend came on a rare off weekend when they traveled to Lakeport, CA to cook at the 3rd Annual Smokin’ on the Water.  There, the team competed against 34 of the best teams in California and across the country and won Grand Champion, thus getting their name into the draw for the Jack.  As Mike said to me via email:

“Even more shocking is getting the LUCKY wildcard draw for the Jack!  I don’t think cooking the Jack was even in my wildest dreams, we just wanted to win a GC! We never imagined it would be 2000 miles from home though with parsley, injections and rubs shared by our competitors! “

This will be Mike and Chris’ fourth year of attendance at the Jack but the first year that they are competing.  Here’s to hoping that they can keep the BBQ Mojo going.  Big Wayner’s BBQ Blog wishes Here Piggy Piggy BBQ the best of luck at the Jack Daniels World Championship Invitational Barbecue!

If you’d like to see your team featured, please email Wayne at bigwaynerbbq@gmail.com.  Check out these previous “Teams that Do Know Jack” spotlights:

Teams that Do Know Jack: Prairie Smoke & Spice BBQ

For today’s “Teams that Do Know Jack” feature, we are staying in Canada.  However, we are travelling over 2,300 km west to Regina, Saskatchewan to meet Rob Reinhardt and Prairie Smoke & Spice BBQ.

Eight years ago, Reinhardt sampled authentic Texas barbecue.  Since then, he has built up a catering business and competition BBQ team that is taking Canada by storm!  Prairie Smoke & Spice BBQ has made quite an impact with accomplishments including, but not limited to:

  • Seven Grand Championships
  • 2010 Canadian National BBQ Championships winner
  • Over 50 awards won
  • Numerous Top 10 finishes

The team is no stranger to competing on the big stage, having previously cooked at the Jack in 2010 and at the American Royal in multiple years.  In 2009, Prairie Smoke & Spice BBQ was the top scoring international team at both the American Royal Invitational and Open!  The 2009 year also found the team in 1st place overall for the year in the chicken category in the PNWBA as well as the Canadian Top Point Champion!

Everywhere they compete, you can always expect Prairie Smoke & Spice BBQ to be in the hunt!

Rob shares a passion for BBQ that is hard to top.  Four years ago, he took the next step by turning his BBQ hobby into a way of life through running a catering business.  Prairie Smoke & Spice BBQ now serves up some of the most authentic barbecue available in the Canadian prairies.

I’m looking forward to meeting Rob and the rest of the team next weekend in Lynchburg.  Big Wayner’s BBQ Blog wishes Rob and Prairie Smoke & Spice BBQ the best of luck at the Jack Daniels World Championship Invitational Barbecue!

If you want to see your team featured, please send an email to bigwaynerbbq@gmail.com.  Also check out the previous teams spotlighted: The Black Pig BBQ, Pork Barrel BBQ, and DivaQ.

Teams that Do Know Jack: The Black Pig BBQ

For today’s “Teams that Do Know Jack” feature spotlight, I want to thank Wilfred Reinke for helping me get in touch with this team.  Today’s post has us crossing over the US/Canada border to London, Ontario to feature The Black Pig BBQ.

This may be the first time I have heard of The Black Pig BBQ, but they are certainly not lacking in credibility!  Some of their accomplishments include, but are certainly not limited to, the following:

  • Three 1st-place finishes in the Canadian Southern BBQ Association (CSBBQA) Whole Hog Championship
  • 1st place Beef — Anything Butt at 2011 Memphis in May
  • 3rd place Ribs at the 2010 Jack Daniels World Championship Invitational Barbecue
  • Grand Champion at the 2010 Upper Canada BBQ Championship
  • 1st place at the National Zantac Chili Challenge for the last 3 years

The team is led by Mike Callaghan, more affectionately known as the Big Dog, and his wife Barb van Rassel.  Mike is the pitmaster and chief cook for the team, while Barb handles the logistics during the “controlled chaos”.

Mike and Barb

Mike and Barb

Newest members of the team include Darin Evans and Courtney Searson.  Darin and Courtney were both members of the River Rats Amateur Team prior to joining The Black Pig BBQ.  They were  quickly plucked away from the amateur ranks after seeing Darin take the Amateur Grand Championship in Ottawa and consistently placing in the top 5 in competitions entered.

Darin and Courtney

Darin and Courtney

As I reviewed the website for The Black Pig BBQ (http://lesnoiracochon.com/), I was very impressed with everything that the team had accomplished thus far.  But after speaking with Darin, I was even more impressed by the character shown by Mike.  To paraphrase Darin, Mike provided him the support and encouragement to make it through his rookie season.  The common phrases I kept hearing were “great person” and “father figure”.

Now that I have read up and done my research on The Black Pig, I’m looking forward to hearing great things!  Big Wayner’s BBQ Blog wishes Mike, Barb, Darin, Courtney, and the rest of the team the best of luck at the Jack Daniels World Championship Invitational Barbecue.  If you’d like to have your team featured, please contact Wayne at bigwaynerbbq@gmail.com.

If you haven’t done so already, check out the previous “Teams that Do Know Jack” posts spotlighting Pork Barrel BBQ and DivaQ.

Teams that Do Know Jack: Pork Barrel BBQ

What do you get when you mix American politics and a hunger for that smokey, savory manna from barbecue heaven?  You get Brett Thompson and Heath Hall, the founders of Pork Barrel BBQ and today’s featured team in the “Teams that Do Know Jack” series!

To tell the story of Pork Barrel BBQ is to tell a story of the American dream.  The concept of Pork Barrel BBQ was first conceived in 2006 as Brett and Heath, then working as two fatigued Senate staffers, were wishing for a good barbecue joint in the Washington, D.C. area.  However, the dream was just a dream until two years later.  The dynamic duo set plans in motion to make the dream of Pork Barrel BBQ a reality, and in December 2008, that dream was finally realized.

The official Pork Barrel BBQ competition team was founded in June 2009 and  started off with a bang by taking 2nd place in sauce and 4th place in pork shoulder at the Safeway National Capital Barbecue Battle in Washington, D.C.

Brett Thompson and Heath Hall -- Founders of Pork Barrel BBQ

Their competitive success carried over into 2010, starting with four Top-15 finishes at Memphis in May, five Top-5 finishes at Picking at the Panhandle in West Virginia, and competing at their first American Royal.  The 2011 year has been very kind to Pork Barrel BBQ as well, with the guys winning their first Grand Championships in back-to-back weeks at the Safeway National Capital Barbecue Battle in Washington, D.C. and the Wellsville BBQ Cookoff in Wellsville, MO.

Pork Barrel BBQ isn’t just a competition team.  They have diversified themselves by getting into multiple markets.  Some of their ventures include BBQ sauces and rubs, social networking, and yes, cologne.

If you’re interested in finding out more about Pork Barrel BBQ, you can go to their website at http://www.porkbarrelbbq.com.  You can also find Pork Barrel BBQ on Facebook and Twitter.  Big Wayner’s BBQ Blog wishes Pork Barrel BBQ the best of luck at the Jack Daniels World Championship Invitational Barbecue!!  If you’d like to have your team featured, please contact Wayne at bigwaynerbbq@gmail.com.

If you haven’t done so already, check out the previous “Teams that Do Know Jack” post spotlighting DivaQ.