Labor Day marks one of Nevada’s biggest events, the Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off, now in its 27th year.
It’s difficult to believe, for those who remember, former Nugget owner John Ascuaga taking a risk to host what was then a questionable venture, capitalizing on the small successes of other cook-offs and bringing one to northern Nevada that didn’t involve chili.
From the start, it was successful; then it just grew. Last year it was attended by more than 500,000 people who consumes 240,000 pounds of ribs (9.2 pounds of which the rib-eating champion Joey Chestnut downed to win), along with incalculable amounts of chicken, corn on the cob and other foods.
Two-dozen rib cookers from around the country will have a chance to feed the public and compete for bragging rights and the $14,500 total purse. A good first stop for attendees might be at last year’s champ, Desperado’s BBQ & Rib Co. from Hinckley, Ohio. The People’s Choice Award went to Back Forty Texas Barbecue from Pleasant Hill.
The free entertainment lineup is attractive and early arrival is necessary to get clear views, especially of headliners. Friday is the band Dishwalla (7 p.m.), Saturday the rising country group Locash (7 p.m.), Sunday the classic rockers Foghat (7 p.m.), and Monday the band ALO (3 p.m.). Throughout the days, other groups perform, including the Mark Sexton Band and Guitar Woody and the Boilers.
Cook-off hours are 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday-Sunday and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday. With parking a challenge, alternative free shuttles will run every half-hour through Sunday from a spot in the Legends at Sparks Marina shopping center. More details: nuggetribcookoff.com.
The 23rd annual Great Lake Tahoe Sternwheeler Race is run between the M.S. Dixie II of Nevada and the Tahoe Queen of California, 11 a.m. Saturday (laketahoecruises.com). The Labor Day Lake Tahoe Fireworks Extravaganza will blast off at 8:30 p.m. on the South Shore.
Additional entertainment: Bob Newhart returns to the area Friday at the Atlantis in Reno (8:30 p.m.; $65; 888-551-7007); Sammy Hagar and the Circle take over Harveys Outdoor at the South Shore with a concert Saturday (7:30 p.m.; $69.50; ticketmaster.com).