Labor Day Weekend snuck up on us and what better way to celebrate than to head down to Victorian Square to listen to live music and sample a variety of the best smoked ribs in the Western United States. For its 31st year in a row, rib cookers from all over come to compete for more than $20,000 in prize money and more importantly, the bragging rights.
From today (August 28) through September 2, locals and visitors can taste ribs and other barbequed goodies from 23 different vendors coming from as far away as New Jersey to enjoying rib cookers based right here in Sparks and Northern Nevada. New this year, Git-RSmoked from Fernley and Whisky Creek BBQ from Louisville, Kentucky will also be joining the rib cookoff.
Spanning six city blocks in downtown Sparks, it is estimated that more than 350,000 people flock to the area to participate in the “Super Bowl of Ribs”. Throughout the 6-day event, foodies consume around 250,000 pounds of ribs. The best part is there is no admission fee and it’s open to everyone.
Along with the consistent eating going on in Rib Village, families can enjoy a kid’s carnival, beer garden, arts and crafts fair, and live entertainment taking place on two main stages. Notable acts on the Main Stage include the Crash Test Dummies playing on Thursday, Aug. 29 from 7-9 p.m.; Candlebox on Saturday, Aug. 31 from 7-9 p.m.; Devin Dawson on Sunday, Sep. 1 from 7-9 p.m.; and Mumbo Gumbo on Monday, Sep. 2 from 2-4:30 p.m.. The Plaza Stage will be hosting music as well including The Blues Monsters, Delta Cat, and the Garage Boys, Audio Sky, and Valentine Rodeo.
Family-owned and operated BJ’s Nevada Barbecue Company located right on 80 East Victorian Avenue will also be competing again. Around for more than 30 years (about as long as the Rib Cook-Off has been taking place), BJ’s serves breakfast, lunch and dinner at its physical location. Its most popular item at the restaurant is its Kick Ass Fries consisting of hand-cut French fries doused in handpulled pork, cheddar cheese, sour cream, green onions, and its award-winning barbecue sauce, but its ribs are its most popular item at the Rib Cook-Off. BJ’s won best sauce in 1992, took first in 1998, and fourth in 2010.
“It’s definitely nice (the Rib Cook-Off) being right down the street,” says BJ’s Manager Jamie Smith. She says that the weekends at BJ’s are always busy, but the popular BBQ joint for sure gets a few more people from out of town coming in for the Rib Cook-Off.
“It’s our favorite time of the year, we love it,” she adds.
The Rib Village opens at 4 p.m. on Aug. 28 and 10:30 a.m. on both Saturday (Aug. 29) and Sunday (Aug. 30), then concludes on Labor Day at 5 p.m. There are 700 free parking spaces in Victorian Square that fill up fast, so Rib Cook-Off attendees are highly encouraged to arrive early or take advantage of the free shuttle service. For more information and full list of events, visit https://nuggetribcookoff.com.