23 October 2008

Music Thursday: Jack Daniels If You Please

Jack Daniel's Smoker

This weekend marks the 20th Annual Jack Daniel's World Championship BBQ Contest. This is one of the premier events in all of bbq and it holds a special place in the history of Ulika BBQ. In 2005, the founding members of Ulika headed to Lynchburg to take part in the festivities. We knew nothing about the world of competitive bbq, but we were there to just see what it was all about. We arrived on a Friday evening and began wandering around the grounds talking with some teams and taking pictures of several pits. The first person we talked with was Jerry King from Midland, Texas. He explained to us how teams got invited to the Jack and which teams were the favorites to win on Saturday. He talk to us about how teams travel the country in hopes of an automatic bid to the Jack. We talked with another team from Texas that cooked with only mesquite wood and called all fruit woods "candy". We talked with a few of the International teams and we were very intrigued that people all over the world cook bbq. One of the things that makes the Jack truly unique is the international aspect. Seventeen teams from ten different countries compete in the same categories as the US teams, and they have an added category of "Home Cookin’ from the Homeland". This is where they make a dish native to their home country. I would love to judge that category some day. But anyway...

On Saturday, we hung around the judging area and got samples fed to us from one of the table captains. After all of the judging had been completed, we wandered around and got some samples from some of the teams we talked to on Friday night. We sampled some chicken from Jerry King and brisket from the guys from Texas. Later we were able to taste some Caribbean Jerk style ribs from the Jamaican team and they were wonderful. Big Bob Gibson was there and they were handing out samples of their sauces. This is when I first discovered white bbq sauce. We also purchased some bbq and ribs from some of the vendors including Texas Rib Rangers and Music City Pig Pals. Needless to say, we had a great time. It really opened our eyes to the fun that we could have doing something that we already loved doing. We never really knew that it would turn into such an addiction.

Here are some pictures from that weekend:

The celebrity judges are always a hot topic.

Silky O'Sullivan's Table

Bill Hall

Lynchburg's own Johnny Majors

Steve Gill

Some teams have upgraded their Land Yachts:

Lotta Bull in '05 at the Jack

Lotta Bull in '08 - that ain't a bad way to travel right there. The Geer Pit remains a staple.

Field of Smoke

Judging Area

The Texas Team's Pit

Slab o ribs

Chicken turn-in box

Well, the next spring we had a pit built (a custom-designed pit made from a 250-gallon propane tank) and headed to Winchester to compete at High on the Hog (where we proceeded to finish second to last). Clearly, our enthusiasm wasn't all we needed to make it in this sport. But we've kept at it and have just finished our third season where we got a call in every competition that we entered!

Now, three years later, we are returning as spectators with several friends that are cooking. This year's experience will be quite different than our first year, and we are really looking forward to the party. Hopefully some day we can return to cook in this event where it all started for Team Ulika.

Good luck to all the teams that are competing this weekend. We are looking forward to hanging out with some friends and meeting some folks that we have only communicated with electronically.

David Allen Coe - Jack Daniel's If You Please

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