Jacksonville Backyard BBQ Championships Are April 19


The 6th annual Jacksonville Backyard BBQ Championships are Saturday, April 19th at EverBank Field. The event is a fundraiser for the Glyn Cook Memorial Scholarship for Daniel Kids. You can purchase tickets in advance and save if you order online here:


Here’s the Radio Spot for the event:

Jacksonville Backyard BBQ Championships


6th Annual Jacksonville Backyard BBQ Championships Are Coming

VIPs will be able to access the Bud Zone during the 2014 Jacksonville Backyard BBQ Championships, April 19th at EverBank Field. The event is a fundraiser for the Glyn Cook Memorial Scholarship for Daniel kids.
VIPs will be able to access the Bud Zone during the 2014 Jacksonville Backyard BBQ Championships, April 19th at EverBank Field. The event is a fundraiser for the Glyn Cook Memorial Scholarship for Daniel kids.

by Cole Pepper
January 16, 2014

Last night we held our first planning meeting for the 2014 Jacksonville Backyard BBQ Championships. I love this time of year! One of the things I’m most proud of is that our committee does a great job of working to improve the event every year.

Basically, we believe in continuous process improvement.

Here’s a sneak peak at one of the improvements we’re working on for the April 19th event.

VIP Package – Because of construction of the new scoreboards at EverBank Field, we had to get creative with use of space, especially with our judging and scoring area. So we’re looking at utilizing the Bud Zone for our judges and scoring area. Of course, that also means that we have a lot more room to use. So we’re creating a VIP package for up to 250 people. Here’s how it will work. Each package consists of four tickets to the event, four Bud Zone passes, a parking pass (and maybe a free drink…working on this).

VIPs will be able to get out of the sun and into the Bud Zone, plus they’ll have the chance to sample from our Smoke Ring of Honor, our past winners of the event. We may also have some acoustic music and TVs on, plus a private bar. These packages are $100 each and are limited to the first 60 packages. If you want to be placed on the VIP waiting list to be contacted before the VIP packages go on sale to the public, email us (info@jaxbbqchampionships.com) and we’ll let you know in advance.

Some other dates you may want to know about:

Team Registration dates

  • Teams who competed last year: February 20, 2014
  • Teams who competed in the Florida/Georgia Block Party or on the waiting list: March 3, 2014
  • Public Registration: March 10, 2014

General Admission Tickets go on sale: March 24

Ticket Pricing:

VIP Packages $100 for 4 VIP tickets and a parking pass

General Admission: $20 at the gate on the day of the event, $16.50 when purchased online in advance of the event. 10 pack of tickets for $150.

Florida-Georgia Weekend Block Party features BBQ contest, more

Microsoft Word - FL GA BBQ.docx

by Cole Pepper
October 17, 2013

For the third year in a row, I’m partnering with the folks at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena (SMG and Savor) to create the Florida-Georgia Weekend Block Party. This year, the festivities have expanded. This is a great, family friendly event that offers visitors to Jacksonville and residents a chance to kick-off the Florida-Georgia Weekend on Friday, November 1.

Food Trucks will serve lunch in front of the Arena starting at 11am. Some of Jacksonville’s best known and celebrated food trucks will be on hand, showcasing their culinary skills. A portion of all food sales goes to support Daniel kids.

Turner Pest Control sponsors the Cornhole Tournament. You may sign up to compete online.

Live music from Ivey-West Band, Firewater Tent Revival, and Something Distant.

New this year, a flag football tournament at the Shipyards. Teams can sign up online as well via JaxScene.com

The 3rd annual Florida-Georgia Weekend Block Party BBQ contest will feature some of the best BBQ teams from the area competing for the Keith Hall Memorial Trophy and a spot in the Jacksonville Backyard BBQ Championships. Once again, team entry fees go to support Daniel kids. If you would like to compete in the event, you may sign up online, or want more information on the BBQ contest, you can find it here.

The evening culminates with the Cousin Catfish Pigskin Jamboree at the Shipyards with a concert from Corey Smith and Sister Hazel. Tickets for the concert are available online.

It Matters to Him

by Cole Pepper
October 17, 2013

Jaguars cornerback Will Blackmon visited the Daniel campus this week. When Blackmon joined the team, he asked the Jaguars Foundation about kids charities in Jacksonville. When he heard about Daniel, he immediately wanted to help.

Blackmon, who lost his mother when he was six, has a cousin who lost both parents and needed help. Fortunately, Blackmon’s father and grandmother decided to take the cousin in, and eventually, adopt him, providing for him with a stable home environment. Not all kids have that option. A number of the kids Blackmon met at Daniel need someone to be there for them, but without extended family able to help, they can bounce around the system for months, even years. That’s where Daniel steps in.

Blackmon represented the Jaguars with the NFL’s Play60 program, showcasing the new playground on the Daniel campus as well as the Jaguars Literacy Den, a library and reading room in the new Daniel Academy. Check out the photos below.

The Fruits of BBQ Contests

Four of this year’s Glyn Cook Memorial Scholarship winners (seated) along with the Glyn Cook Memorial Scholarship Executive Committee and Daniel staff.

by Cole Pepper
October 9, 2013

It is one of my favorite nights of the year. It’s the night when the countless hours of hard work, of all of the favors called in of the shameless promotion really pay off.

It’s the harvest of the fruits of the Jacksonville Backyard BBQ Championships and the Florida-Georgia Weekend Block Party BBQ contest.

Wednesday evening, for the fifth time, we presented the Glyn Cook Memorial Scholarship to college students who had once been homeless.

A little background for the initiated. In 2008, cancer took my father-in-law, Glyn Cook, at the age of 63. Not only was Glyn a rock of stability in a family full of women, but he was a great example for me and a former Chairman of the Board at Daniel. Daniel, as you may know, is Florida’s oldest child service agency and the oldest non-profit in Jacksonville. I’m honored to serve on the board now as the Vice Chairman.

After Glyn passed away, my wife and her sisters and mother and I decided to create a scholarship in Glyn’s memory for kids at Daniel. This, we thought, would help Daniel to continue to make a difference in the lives of kids in college and beyond. It’s the “teach a man to fish” principle.

One of Daniel’s flagship programs is called Project Prepare. Homeless teens, usually high school age, who cannot live at home for a variety of reasons, some as simple as an inability to coexist with a parent (usually in these cases, its a single parent) to abuse and abandonment and everything in between, are given a stable place to live. In addition to the housing, they are also taught life skills like time management, budgeting, cooking, cleaning, hygiene…the kind of things that most of us take for granted.

Now, I should state, that not every applicant automatically gets a scholarship. These must be earned. And after the kids earn the scholarship, we expect even more from them: community service, better grades, and most of all, to be a good example to other kids in their situation (of anybody else, for that matter).

So tonight, at the education center on the Daniel campus, we heard directly from four of our seven scholarship winners. One of the winners read comments from her sister, another winner in school in south Florida, and another sent a letter of thanks, ready by the program’s director Shelly Davalos (who fought back tears of pride as she read).

So where does barbecue come into play? Each year, the money made from those two barbecue contest goes to fund these scholarships. Each year, we’ve been able to give larger scholarships and make a bigger impact on the lives of these college students. So for those of you who have competed in, attended, judged, volunteered or aided in any way our efforts in the past five years, know that your efforts have made a difference in the lives of kids who at one time saw no future. For some, Daniel was there at such a crucial time that they admit that without finding Daniel, they would be in a dark place or even dead.

If you want to read more about Daniel’s programs and successes, you can check out the website (DanielKids.org) or follow Daniel kids on Facebook or @Danielkids on twitter. Or, just come out to the Florida-Georgia Weekend Block Party BBQ contest on Friday, November 1 around the arena.

Once again, thank you.

When Sports Make a Difference

Daniel kid at sharks game
That’s 8 year old Claude with the smile of a kid attending his first live football game. Daniel Family Services Counselor Tim Decker is along side.

by Cole Pepper

Before I begin, some disclosures. I sit on the Board of Trustees of Daniel, Florida’s oldest child service agency. I’ve been involved with that charity for about six years and care deeply for the work that Daniel does for children and families in our community.

Disclosure #2. As you probably know, I call the TV play-by-play for the Sharks games on Channel 4. The Sharks pay me for my efforts.

That being said, this is a cool story.

Claude is 8 years old. He had never attended an organized sporting event.

He has been in foster care for several years and hopes to find a “forever family.”  Claude has endured struggles and overcome overcome obstacles in his short life that none of use would wish upon our enemies.

He and his sister were neglected and abused by their mother. They were placed in foster care apart from one another, to allow them the ability to have more one on one attention to heal. Eventually the biological mother’s parental rights were terminated and Claude became eligible to be adopted. Shortly after moving in with his new/adoptive family he suffered more abuse and the adoption failed. 

Not a bad way to experience your first Sharks game, huh?
Not a bad way to experience your first Sharks game, huh?

But then he came to Daniel. The staff at Daniel helped Claude deal with the issues that were holding him back and helped him cope. He was placed in a new foster home. His grades improved and he became the Claude that he was before. Happy, energetic, outgoing.

Over the past several months, with the help of his Daniel staff and foster mom, Claude has turned it all around through hard work, determination, and perseverance.  He recently received a most-improved award and was honored at the recognition ceremony with Family Support Services (FSS).

“I’ve known Claude since he cam into our care and I’ve watched him progress along the way,” said Decker. “I have told Claude on many occasions that good behavior gets you good things, and bad behavior gets you bad things.This is short and simple, but I hope that the positive reinforcement he has received for his improvements will help to ingrain this way of thinking for Claude. ”

Last Saturday, when the Sharks hosted the Spokane Shock at the Arena, Claude got to live a dream of his: attending his first football game. He and Tim Decker, a Daniel Family Services Counselor, were guests of the Sharks. Claude even got to go on the field in the second quarter and meet the players. He received a #5 Jeff Hughley jersey which he wore the entire game.

Daniel kid with sharks jerseyClaude’s review was simple, but powerful: “It was good,” he said

Claude has now realized one dream, to see a football game live and in person. That’s quite a dream. Now, Claude hopes to realize one more dream and find a forever family soon.