Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off

Great Food and Good Fun at Victorian Square in Sparks

Rib cooking at Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off in Sparks, Nevada
Photo © Stan White

About the Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off

The 2014 Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off runs from Wednesday, August 27 through Monday, September 1 (Labor Day). Hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday. Victorian Square in Sparks is the site of the Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off, one of the biggest and best events around Reno / Tahoe. Rib cooking teams from around the world compete for the best ribs trophy while we get to have fun and enjoy some mighty tasty eating. The Kids' Area is open every day.

Kids' area rides require purchasing tickets. Admission to everything else at the event is free. Pets are not permitted in Victorian Square - only service animals are allowed.

What is the Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off?

Think lots of good food (mostly BBQ pork ribs, of course) and drink, five stages of entertainment, numerous vendors of various wares at Crafters Crossing, and a fun, family friendly atmosphere in Victorian Square and you've got the general idea. This 26th year of the event should be as good as or better than cook-offs I have attended, and those were a kick.

Rib Cookers at the Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off

This is serious business for the rib cookers, though. Lest you think they are all here just to serve BBQ to the crowd, check out the big trophies displayed by all the teams. They also brag about their wins on banners surrounding their stalls. The 24 rib cookers are furiously competing for the taste buds of judges and the public, hoping to cook their way to another trophy and a big cash prize. Among the competitors will be the 2013 winner, Famous Daves BBQ and local favorite Carson City BBQ. Review the Rib Cook-Off judges and you'll see how serious the competition is.

World Rib Eating Championships

The Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-off World Rib Eating Championship will be at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, August 27, on the Main Concert Stage. This is a serious contest, sponsored by Major League Eating (MLE). Eaters will be chewing for a purse of $5,000, with a first prize of $2,500. Top contestants are expected to consume 12 pounds or more of meat in 12 minutes. Joey "Jaws" Chestnut, the winner of every event except one since 2006, is scheduled to be back to defend his title. If you can stand to watch, this could be one of the most unusual "athletic" competitions you've ever seen.

People's Choice Award

Another part of the competition is the People's Choice Award, given to the rib cooker who garners the most votes from the public. The voting booth will be under the gazebo on the corner of 11th Street and Victorian Avenue. You can vote Wednesday through Sunday, from 12 noon to 8 p.m.

Big Entertainment at the Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off

The Main Concert Stage on Victorian Square will feature the biggest shows, including performances by Jefferson Starship, Robert Randolph & The Family Band, Joe Diffie, and more. Check the Rib Cook-Off entertainment listings for details.

Kids' Area at the Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off

A Kids' Area will be open every day during the Rib Cook-Off. It's their place for kid oriented fun and your place to let them run off some steam while you take a break. Here you'll find carnival rides and inflatable rides, slides, and games. Ride tickets are $1, with better deals if you buy in blocks of 12, 27, or 50. It takes three tickets each for most attractions.

Location of the Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off

If you are coming from out-of-town or just aren't familiar with Sparks, here are directions to Victorian Square and the official address of 1100 Nugget Avenue. Once there, you can see where things are with these Rib Cook-Off event maps.

Parking and Shuttles at the Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off

With an estimated 500,000 people showing up, you know traffic and parking will be a big hassle. Parking in the immediate vicinity of Victorian Square is limited, so you are probably better off not to even try. Instead, park for free at The Outlets at Sparks (1310 Scheels Dr., Sparks) and ride the free shuttles to the event all day and into the evening. The pick-up spot is between Fudrucker's and Popeye's and the drop-off is at Centennial Plaza. Shuttles will run from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, and from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

There's no shuttle service on Labor Day Monday.

Another way to get to the Rib Cook-Off is on RTC RIDE, the public transit system in the Truckee Meadows. The Centennial Plaza transit center just happens to be at the west end of Victorian Square, which is a great place to start a day at the Nugget Rib Cook-Off and totally avoid the parking headache.

Source: Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off website.

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