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Bigger, Badder and Tastier
by Joshua H. Silavent
Aug 18, 2011 | 3030 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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John Ascuaga took some time off Wednesday afternoon to enjoy a rib or two after addressing local politicians, vendors, sponsors and the media who had gathered for a luncheon at the Nugget to hear announcements about the upcoming Rib Cook-Off that will take place Aug. 31 through Sept. 5.
SPARKS — Several changes are coming to this year’s Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off, but the essential qualities of the Labor Day weekend festival will remain – namely, great food and live entertainment.

“We’ve got a great template,” said Stephen Ascuaga, COO of the Nugget.

America’s largest rib event, the cook-off returns for its 23rd year Aug. 31 to Sept. 5.

The 2011 edition will feature a new rib cooker, Uncle Bub’s from Chicago; a new snack vendor, the Fabulous Frickle Brothers, who will be serving up fried pickles and fried green tomatoes; a corporate lunch for exclusive attendees; and a green initiative aimed at composting and recycling 100 percent of refuse.

Of course, the things people have come to know and love about the cook-off will be back, starting with more than 280,000 pounds of ribs that have been ordered for the event.

To put that figure in perspective, seven semi-trailers full of ribs will arrive in Victorian Square daily.

Not running out of food, “that’s like rule No. 1,” Ascuaga said.

The Rib Village in Victorian Square, spanning five city blocks, will accommodate an expected turnout of half a million people during the event. And more than 40 bands, including members of Sly and the Family Stone (though not Sly himself) and Blue Oyster Cult, will entertain the crowds.

More than $14,000 in prize money will be awarded to the best rib cookers.

“This is a serious competition for our cookers,” Ascuaga said.

Meanwhile, competitive eaters will vie for $5,000.

Because of the enormous crowds, a shuttle service will run from the Legends at Sparks Marina shopping center to Victorian Square.

Finally, and most importantly, 24 high-volume BBQ cookers from across the nation will descend on Sparks to serve and delight the gastrointestinal cravings of attendees.

Among them will be last year’s top winner, Bone Daddy’s BBQ from Midland, Mich.

“If we were to know 23 years ago that it would evolve like this,” Ascuaga mused, “Who would’ve thunk it?”
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