Ribfest: Finger Licking Good

I went to Reno, Nevada with my family this past weekend for Labor Day. Reno is known as “The Biggest Little City in the World.” A little less known neighboring city a few miles from Downtown Reno is Sparks, Nevada. Sparks has a population of about 90,000 people. Each year during Labor Day weekend, 500,000 visitors come to Sparks to attend the annual “Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-off” aka “Ribfest.” This is a competition that has been happening at the Nugget Casino Resort since 1989 to find out who cooks the best barbecue pork ribs in the Country. The top winners receive prize money, a trophy, and bragging rights. Visitors can buy barbecue ribs from any of the competitors. I’ve heard about “Ribfest” for many years, but this was my first time attending.  

There were about 24 competitors this year so how does one go about deciding which ones to try? A friend of mine gave me some recommendations and they were similar to my brother’s friends recommendations, so that was what we went with. We got a full rack of ribs from three vendors for our family of nine.  
The first one we tried was from Aussom Aussie’s, originally from Down Under. I was in rib heaven after my first bite. It had a nice taste of honey and really reminds me of “char siu” or Chinese BBQ pork. The pork was tender, juicy, and easily came off the bone. Aussom Aussie’s won best barbecue sauce in 2015.
The second one we tried was from Michigan’s Bone Daddy’s BBQ, which was quite different from Aussom Aussie’s. I definitely felt like I was a part of barbecue perfection. These ribs had a kick and a smoke to them which was very enjoyable. Bone Daddy’s won first place last year.
The final rack came from the local BJ’s BBQ from Sparks. These ribs had a hint of sweetness and spiciness. I thought to myself, if Aussom Aussie and Bone Daddy’s got married and had a baby, they could name it BJ. The last prize BJ received was 4th place in 2010.
The unanimous favorite of the Lau family was Aussom Aussie’s, which didn’t win any awards this year. This year the winners included: 

1st – Rasta Joe’s BBQ
2nd – Bone Daddy’s BBQ
3rd – Texas Thunder BBQ


All the BBQ rib cookers at “Ribfest” are masters in their art of barbecuing and I think they are all winners. I hope to be back to attend a future “Ribfest.”

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