Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook Off

Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook Off 2024

AUGUST 28, 2024 - SEPTEMBER 02, 2024


In the shadow of the snow-capped Sierra Nevadas, hundreds of thousands come to sample the smokiest, spiciest, meatiest flesh in the West.

Spanning six city blocks in downtown Sparks, Nev., Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook Off will grill, smoke and slather nearly 250,000 pounds of ribs over the course of its six days. If you’re like this writer and thought there was a new food called a nugget rib, don’t fret. This barbecue competition and festival’s titular nugget actually refers to the Nuggets Casino Resort, the sponsor of the event. Just north of Tahoe, meat enthusiasts come for the biggest barbecue festival in the USA and stick around to check out the arts and crafts vendor show, kids programming and musical performances between two stages. This year, you can catch around 20 varying artists, from Ying Yang Twins to Foghat to Uncle Kracker.

The competitive spirit is palpable by the Sunday of Labor Day weekend, and not without reason. The two dozen teams selected (sorry to dads everywhere, it’s invite-only) for this so-called “Super Bowl of rib competitions” are not only fighting for bragging rights, there’s a cool $19,500 check waiting on the other end for the winning cooker. The Best Rib judges panel, composed of chefs, food critics and media personalities, blind taste the ribs on flavor, appearance and texture. As an amateur barbecue consumer, you can also participate in the voting for the People’s Choice award. Choose your ribs wisely, as this is no small operation: the competing rib cookers come prepared with truly massive setups. Menu displays soar over the festival promenade, and each competitor erects towering tents, many splashed with the ubiquitous orange flames that tempt hungry pedestrians toward their wares. Others go the route of huge color prints of their fare, like Texas Outlaw BBQ’s brisket nachos, or a naughty li’l cartoon pig mascot.

While the general admission to the Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook Off is free, the VIP Rib Village, a ticketed section of the festival, grants you access to the all-you-can-eat rib buffet, unlimited beverage refills and reserved tables for you and your fellow barbecue maniacs. Before you tie on your bib, be aware that full tables are only available for groups of 10 people and will run you $1,100 per lunch, $1,600 per dinner.

The Specs

  • 350,000-400,000 are expected to attend
  • Admission to the festival is free to all
  • Hanging out in Reno? Have a look at Fifty Grande’s Nevada guide


What is the closest airport to Best in the West Nugget Rib Cookoff?

It’s less than five minutes from Reno-Tahoe International Airport (RNO) by car.

Where’s the venue?

Victorian Square (Victorian Avenue between 14th Street and Pyramid Way), 1100 Nugget Avenue, Sparks, NV 89431

I’m driving, where can I park?

Local parking is free but very limited. The free shuttle service from the Nugget Casino will be your best bet.

Can I camp?

There is no camping at the festival.

Can I bring kids?

Barbecue fanatics of all ages are welcome.

Which artists will I see at Best in the West Nugget Rib Cookoff?

Ying Yang Twins, Thompson Square, Uncle Kracker, Foghat, Eddie Montgomery, Legendary Wailers, Joey Carmon, Cliff Porter, DJ Icey, Whitewater, James King Roxas, Jakes Garage, Reckless Envy, Patron Latin Rhythms, Sierra Roc, The Heidi Incident, Austin Moe, Brodie Stewart, Eric Anderson, Decoy, Mark Mackay and Mike Shummer.


Nugget Rib Cook Off 2024 - Best in the West!


BY Olivia Winters