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PHOTOS: Rasta Joe’s BBQ Wins Nugget Rib Cook-Off

By John Tuckness
Rasta Joe's BBQ
Rasta Joe's BBQ

Rasta Joe’s BBQ, winner of the 2016 Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off. Credit: John Tuckness

First place honors at the 2016 Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off in Sparks, Nevada, went to Rasta Joe’s BBQ Inc. Twenty-three of the country’s top competitive, large volume barbecue teams competed Aug. 31 through Sept. 5 for the coveted first place prize. This is the 28th year of the six-day event heralded as the most prestigious and popular rib cooking competition in the nation.

Rasta Joe’s, from Plymouth, Indiana, has placed both second and third twice in past years. This marks the first championship for owner Joe Alexander, who said, “Now I have the trifecta: Best Sauce, People’s Choice and First Place!”

The top five winners are:

First place: Rasta Joe’s BBQ Inc., from Plymouth, Ind., $7,500

Second place: Bone Daddy’s BBQ, from Midland, Mich., $3,000

Third place: Joey’s Texas Thunder, from Borger, Texas, $2,000

Fourth place: Montana Q Bar-B-Que House, from Frenchtown, Mont., $1,000

Fifth place: Texas Outlaw Barbecue, from Elizabethtown, Ky., $500

People’s Choice Award also went to fourth place winner Montana Q Bar-B-Que House. Checkered Pig BBQ, from Martinsville, Va., won the Best Sauce category.

While bragging rights, a trophy and the prize money are great benefits for the winners, they also generally see increased sales at the next year’s event.

A highlight of the Rib Cook-Off is the VIP Rib Village. This popular section of the event allows attendees to try out all the different ribs and sauces from the various cookers in all-you-can-eat fashion. In the past, entry was sold by table with 9 seats for $1,000. However single seat admission is now offered at $75 for lunch or $95 for dinner.

2016 Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off
2016 Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off
Rasta Joe's BBQ

Live Music on Two Stages

And while the ribs are the star of the event, two stages of live music, including rock & roll, country, blues and jazz, serve as eager co-stars. A lineup of top notch headliners, local favorites and talented tribute bands build the Rib Cook-Off into an awesome event that thousands of people look forward to every Labor Day weekend.

This year’s big headliner, Eddie Money, put on a great show. But if I had to pick who had the best performance out of all the bands that played it would be one of the many local bands: The Greg Golden Band. With a new record nearly ready to drop, they played some of the songs from the new album, more than one likely to be a big hit.

Seemingly bigger than the previous year and packed with people getting their fill of tasty ribs, this event is clearly here to stay. Next year’s Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off is scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 30 through Monday, Sept. 4, 2017. For reservations, and event information call 800-648-1177 or -775-356-3300.

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