Monday, October 22, 2007
If you've never been to the annual Jack Daniel's BBQ championship in Lynchburg, Tennessee, you should - nay, you need - to make plans to attend this coming weekend. To ape a line from Jerry Seinfeld, it's a scene, man.
Since I have family who hail from Lynchburg, not to mention a few family members who still live in and 'round the 'Burg, I make it a point to attend the Jack Daniel's contest each and every year. I don't make an annual pilgrimage just to see family, however. I can honestly say that when I go each October, I fully expect to have a better time than I did the previous year. (And I always do, too!)
At this year's contest - official name: The 18th Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitational Barbecue - more than 60 teams from around the world will be on hand to smoke whole chickens, whole hogs, pork shoulder, ribs, and beef briskets. And when I say "from around the world," I mean from around the world:
In 2002, I struck up a conversation with a feller who was a member of a BBQ team from the Czech Republic. The feller in question - whose name I couldn't remember if I had to - and I first debated whether pork shoulders or pork butts made the best BBQ (the Czech team favored butts), and then our attention turned to Alexandr Dubček. We spent a good two hours discussing Dubček and the 1968 "Prague Spring." Our conversation ended when Mr. Czech had to sign in for a certain contest his team had entered, and I didn't get a chance to meet up with him again. (Unfortunately, despite my earnest wishes, the Czech team did not return in 2003.)
That said, make darn sure you're hungry when you head to Lynchburg this weekend. There will be some two-dozen vendors who'll be serving quality pulled-pork, chicken, ribs, slaw, beans, tater salad, rolls and cornbread. Plus, you can visit more than one booth at which you can purchase an ear of smoked corn as long as your arm, which is served dripping in real butter.
When you've finished eating, take a stroll around Lynchburg's historic town square to "walk off" your lunch. Then head immediately to the Jack Daniel Distillery - about 200 yards - for a free tour. That's right, it won't cost you a penny to tour the buildings in which Tennessee's most famous whiskey is mashed, filtered, fermented, and stored. If you've never seen how whiskey is created, you'll be in for a treat. No matter what you think 'bout al-kee-hol drinkin', whiskey-making as a craft is every bit as impressive as painting, sculpting, carving, etching, sewing, stitching, etc., etc., etc.
Finally, if you're heading to the BBQ contest from Nashville, do NOT go the "popular" route from Shelbyville to Lynchburg. If you do, you will be sitting in traffic for quite some time. Instead, take 231 into Fayetteville, then head to Lynchburg. If you need directions, e-mail me and I'll tell you 'xactly what you need to know.