“This is the best show in the world!” Wall said as he accepted the prize.
Wall, a cooker from Midland, Mich. is no stranger to the winner’s stage or to northern Nevada. Bone Daddy’s BBQ won first place in 1999, third place in 2003 and fifth place in 2006. Wall also was married to his wife and Bone Daddy’s co-owner, Kim Wall, in Reno 20 years ago.
But Wall said the win was not about the stage or the money.
“What makes my ribs are all the people,” Wall said. “There was an incredible crowd last year and this year was the exact same thing, but bigger.”
Bone Daddy’s BBQ has been pouring its signature sauce in Victorian Square for the past 15 years. Wall said he was among the first of the rib cookers to join the event after it really started to really off.
“I’m the oldest of the youngest,” Wall said, referring to a family of cookers who have been coming to the event together for 15 years.
“I’m gonna go back and buy all my crew a cocktail,” Wall said as he stepped off the stage, trophy in hand. “Without them, it just wouldn’t happen.”
Wall emphasized that the secret to Bone Daddy’s success won’t be found on the barbecue.
“Barbecue is not just about the food,” Wall said. “It’s when you get a box of beer and people all around … it’s not what’s on the grill. It’s the people.”
And the people came out Monday to see if their favorite cook would take home the prize.
“I liked the local team, B.J.’s Barbecue,” said Len McKenzie of Seattle, Wash.
“He barbecues ribs back home and we wanted to see how the big boys do it,” Karen McKenzie said of her husband.
After having two grandchildren, the McKenzies said that the atmosphere made them feel like they were kids at a state fair.
“You get to be a kid again,” Len McKenzie said. “And at our age, that’s the best part … We will be back next year. And we will bring the kids and the grandkids.”
Nugget officials said that attendance this year was possibly higher than last.
“We are comfortably even or a hair ahead,” Mike Traum, spokesman for the Nugget, said of the attendance.
Previous attendance was estimated at about 500,000 people, according to Traum. The Nugget said it measures increases or decreases in attendance through booth sales, which will not be calculated until a later date.
“This year was outstanding,” said Nugget owner and namesake Stephen Ascuaga. “We had huge crowds with minimal disruptions … we couldn’t have asked for a better event.”
Ascuaga added that throughout the past week he has learned the holding power of the event.
“I learned that people save the date for the rib cook off, regardless of gas prices, the economy, etc …” Ascuaga said.
The sun set on the 20 th annual event at 5 p.m. Monday as rib cookers packed up their grills and headed home.
“This has been the biggest event I have experienced in my life,” Nugget owner and namesake John Ascuaga said, adding that he is looking forward to next year.