A JUDGE AT THE JACK
The stakes are high here with the competitive goal to win one of the coveted awards announced late Saturday afternoon. It’s big cash along with the priceless prestige that comes with bringing home a trophy from the best event of its kind on the planet. “The Jack,” as it’s called, is the Super Bowl of championship barbecue.
Friendships just naturally come from this one-of-a-kind event. Here is where I first met the legendary Johnny Majors, the football player and coach who is held in much the same esteem here as other Tennessee greats like Andrew Jackson and Davy Crockett. Coach Majors, the quintessential Southern gentleman, is a longtime judge at “The Jack,” whose family pioneered this area where he grew up and lives.
Look around and you’ll see folks like Frank Spence, a Nashville native, former ranking executive of the Atlanta Braves and Atlanta Falcons and the nation’s top authority on Tailgatin.” Bruce Shelton, another Nashville denizen makes a frequent stop here and is one of the top folk art collectors and dealers anywhere. Olivia Thomason, one of America’s top folk artists, came to work on new paintings about the color and spirit of the event.
The countryside is bucolic and this city looks like a priceless painting by Grandma Moses. A tour of the Jack Daniel’s Distillery prompts an urge for a glass of the elixir over some ice and the Bluegrass music inspires some toe-tapping and even Tennessee-style cloggin.’