They had ventured out onto the playa of the Black Rock for the big burn, while we just wanted our fill of the delectable bones of fat and gristle, which served primarily as a grossly overpriced, barbeque sauce delivery system.
Such is the annual Best of the West Nugget Rib Cook-off, held in Sparks, Nevada. While the infamous Burning Man event, over the hill to the north, garners a crowd that is over 300 times the 200 residents in near-by Gerlach, the rib cook-off sucks in a reported half-a-million hungry souls ready to suckle on those juicy pork parts.
The cookers come from far and wide, bouncing from rib cook-off to rib cook-off, collecting kudos that they display in huge banners in an attempt to lure willing suckers to their wares.
By suckers, I mean both for the highly regarded secret sauces, and people willing to spend $25 for a styrofoam container with a slab of bones, coated in sauce.
Yes, I am guilty of both. Four take-away boxes will set you back $100 in cash, but let the gooey getting get going. Hmmm hmmm good ©.
While the purveyors of pork pleasure certainly rake in plenty from the ravenous crowds, those doing the cooking do have certain job-related hazards…like breathing in thick clouds of charcoalized carcinogenic smoke.
(Check out the stained bucket of industrial strength-looking liquid. Looks clean enough for me!)
While the people watching is always worthwhile, albeit with a lot less naked people caked in mud, as you might see at that other event, you can count on many interesting sights, such as on a banner on the above pictured rib pusher, which read,
“Johnson’s Thermo Nuclear Sauce will improve your cardiovascular system, sinuses, colon, and pancreas simultaneously.
We’re talking hot. No guts, no glory.”
Luckily, the Renown Regional Medical Center in nearby Reno has an excellently staffed ICU trauma facility for any OD’s that might occur.
On the lighter side, slogan bearing t-shirts were commonplace, and one that got my eye read,
“PETA - People for the Eating of Tasty Animals”
and on the other side,
“Vegetarian: ancient tribal slang for the village idiot who can’t hunt or fish.”
To maintain my street cred, I hung out with some real Bad Company out there on the street, but truth-be-known, it might be a stretch to call a group of AARP-eligible, white-haired, walker wielding old farts as in any way a threat to personal safety, other than their own, should they stumble on the stage and break a hip.
After we sucked as much sauce as possible and coated our hands and faces in the thick, sticky red stuff, we were able to share the remnants of our gluttony.
As evidenced by our distended stomachs and the towering pile of spent napkins, as well as our moans of combined satiation and excessiveness, sometimes it is just not all that easy to curb the consumption.