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Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook Off

Calling all rib lovers!

It’s America’s biggest and best free-entry barbecue festival!

Not to be mistaken for just a Reno rib cook-off, this is the Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off. In 2016, The Nugget Rib Cook Off was named “Best BBQ Festival” by USA Today’s Top10 Readers’ Choice. The annual event transforms the Labor Day holiday into a must-attend culinary, music, craft and family end-of-summer affair.

Enjoy the country’s best grilling competition, located at the Nugget Casino Resort in Sparks, just east of Reno. Two dozen of the world’s top barbecue competitors serve up more than 240,000 pounds of ribs for hundreds of thousands of hungry event-goers on Victorian Square. In addition to tasty ribs, enjoy live entertainment throughout the day, and headline entertainment in the evening.

Nugget Rib Cook Off Events

The yearly rib cook off takes place during Labor Day Weekend and brings together the best of the best in ribs, sauces, cookers and even world rib-eating champions. Rib cook off teams will compete for first to fifth place, best sauce and of course the people’s choice award. First place Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook Off winners will receive $10,000! So, needless to say, the competition can get pretty fierce.

Rib cookers from all over the world compete for top honors and are judged by a carefully selected panel that works behind the scenes to determine which team made the best ribs. The judging is double-blind, so neither the staff setting up the ribs nor the judges know which ribs belong to which chef. The judges of the Nugget rib cook off consist of a variety of different backgrounds—from culinary professionals and food critics to media personalities who share a passion for down-home BBQ.

The Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook Off is Northern Nevada’s best grilling competition located at the Nugget Casino Resort in Sparks, NV. The event also transforms Victorian Square into a VIP ‘Rib Village.’

VIP Experience

A VIP table in the Rib Village means that not only will you enjoy mouthwatering side dishes, desserts and all-you-can-responsibly drink beverages (which includes beer and wine), but you will be right up front for the weekend’s entertainment. The tables sell out quickly but don’t worry, the event is huge! From live music stages and booths to craft vendors, kids activities and more, the Best in the West Nugget Cook Off is a crowd favorite.

Live Music on the Main Stage

Every night of the Rib Cook Off, there is live musical entertainment on the Main Stage. What’s better than chowing down on delicious ribs, chugging a cold beer and listening to good music? This year’s performances include a mix of bands and artists from country to rock ‘n’ roll. The schedule is as follows:

  • Wednesday, August 30 – LIT with Chad Tepper
  • Thursday, August 31 – Lindsay Ell
  • Friday, September 1 – Collin Raye
  • Saturday, September 2 – Warrant with Paralandra
  • Sunday, September 3 – The Gatlin Brothers
  • Monday, September 4 – The Legendary Wailers

Little ones will love the variety of rides and activities in the Kids’ Area, and you can take a break from rib sampling for some shopping in Crafters’ Crossing. The Plaza Stage also features a variety of different musical entertainment!

Directions and Parking


The Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook Off is a 10-minute drive away from the Reno-Tahoe International Airport and downtown Reno. For the most convenient access to the cook off, book your room at the Nugget Casino Resort. There are plenty of great hotels in the area, too, if rooms begin to fill up. Check out our list of local hotels close to the Reno rib cook-off.

Parking and Shuttles

Getting to the Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook Off is easy. There is a free shuttle service, rideshare drop-off/pick-up areas or free parking in the Nugget’s West Parking Lot and at the City Parking Garage, near the Galaxy Theatre.

Round-trip shuttles are available Wednesday to Sunday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Monday from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. Pick-up and drop-off locations for this complimentary shuttle are the Reno-Sparks Livestock Events Center, located at 1350 N. Wells Ave. and Greenbrae Shopping Center/Sparks Christian Fellowship at 510 Greenbrae Dr.

It’s time to come hungry and leave satisfied. Your tummy will thank you for the mounds of delicious ribs and we’re sure you’ll be back next year for more!

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