Rib fans, rejoice: The Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off is coming to Sparks’ Victorian Square Aug. 31-Sept. 5.
Rib cookers include Midland-Michigan’s Bone Daddy’s BBQ, the reigning Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off champion. However, there are 22 other competitors vying for that top spot this year, including Famous Dave’s BBQ from Reno, Back Forty Texas BBQ from Pleasant Hill, California, and Uncle Bub’s from Westmont, Illinois. More than 241,000 pounds of ribs will be served up during the Nugget’s six-day event. That’s a lot of ribs, but there also will be corn on the cob, fries, funnel cakes, fresh-squeezed lemonade, pretzels and more.
Craving some barbecue ribs? Head to this festival, voted by 10Best.com and USA TODAY readers as the best BBQ festival, where 240,000 pounds of ribs are served. VPC
1. The village
Consider purchasing a table or seat at the VIP Rib Village to be able to eat as many ribs as you want all in one place. Located in the center of the action, the VIP Rib Village is open nightly and includes all-you-can-eat ribs from all 23 vendors, side dishes, desserts and all-you-can-responsibly drink beer and wine. The ticket cost for Rib Village is $75 to $95, and tables or tickets can be purchased in advance at nuggetribcookoff.com, but buy early, as tickets do sell out.
2. Watch out for the pigs
While at the Rib Cook-Off be sure to check out the Presidential Pig Race, scheduled to start at 11 a.m. Sept. 1. This completely unscientific method for predicting who will become the nation’s next president pits two pigs against each other — one in red and one in blue — in a race down Victorian Avenue. Keep in mind that in 2012 the race outcome was accurate, with Obama predicted as winner. And, since this porcine race occurs just once every four years, it could be worth stopping by.
3. Eat. More. Ribs.
Familiar with the names Joey “Jaws” Chesnut and Matt Stonie? Then, you might want to hit up the Nugget World Rib Eating Championship, scheduled to start at 6 p.m. Aug. 31. This free event is in its 11th year, and features competitors up on stage vying to eat as many ribs as possible in 12 minutes.
There’s never a dull moment, and with 12 people competing this year, there’s no telling who will come out on top. After all, last year, Stonie dethroned Chestnut, the long-term champion, after consuming 10.5 pounds of ribs compared to Chesnut’s 9.75 pounds.
4. Judgy, judgy
While visitors eat and have fun, a panel of judges will be busy working behind the scenes to determine the winners, including the overall champion and second- through fifth-place contenders. The winners will be announced at 2 p.m. Sept. 5 at the west end stage along Victorian Avenue and 14th Street. A cash prize of $7,500 is awarded to the first-place winner with smaller amounts going to the other top-place competitors. Winners also will be announced for “Best Ribs,” “Best Sauce” and “People’s Choice.”
5. Live music to knock your ribs off
The rib cook-off’s main musical stage is located on Victorian Avenue near the intersection with 11th Street. From rock to country and more, you can dance, drink and listen to live music on a regular basis or find a seat nearby to enjoy your ribs. There is a little bit of something for everyone — the main stage will feature The Rocket Man Show Tribute to Elton John, The Garage Boys, Vertical Horizon, Eddie Money and The Original Wailers. A full schedule of music can be found here.
6. For the piglets
Children will delight in an array of rides and activities. The kids’ area will be located in front of the Century 14 movie theater parking garage and will include games and rides for kids of all ages. Ride tickets will be available for purchase just outside the kids’ area.
7. Shuttle up
For quick, convenient access there will be two free shuttles to and from the event. In Sparks, you can park at the Iron Horse Shopping Center at 505 E. Prater Way. For those located near south Reno, the Reno Sparks Convention Center is offering another free shuttle in their parking lot on the corner of Coliseum Way and Peckham Lane. Shuttles run Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Monday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Shuttles will take event goers to the RTC Centennial Plaza, near Victorian and 14th, just steps away from all the action.