Tag Archives: BBQ Festival

Making Lemonade out of Smoke

Photo Credit: http://www.photl.com

Every summer smoke from California wildfires causes hazy conditions in Reno. The smoke reduces visibility and has a serious impact on Northern Nevada’s air quality. This is a common problem during the summer months when wildfires are most prevalent. The smoke rolled in this weekend and it put a damper on the Reno Balloon Races special event on Sunday. This reminded me of the 2013 Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off when the whole valley was covered in smoke and there was little visibility because of the poor air quality. We were afraid it would wreck our event, but we made it through and learned these valuable lessons.

1. Pay Attention
Looking back at the 2013 event I wish I had watched the weather patterns closer and paid more attention to the news about the wildfires. We took a lets pray and see how it goes attitude. In hindsight I wish we would have paid more attention leading up to the event and been more proactive, especially with our communication with the public about event contingency plans and how we planned on continuing even if the smoke hurt air quality in Reno.

2. Over Communicate
The news didn’t do us any favors, that is for sure! During the event local news kept telling viewers to stay inside and avoid smoke. They didn’t have one expert on to scientifically discuss how the smoke would affect viewers, they just said stay inside, don’t go outside. Period. Then it got worse. The news in Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay area started announcing the Rib Cook-Off was canceled due to the smoke and the fires. This was not true. We had hotel guests calling upset we canceled the event and received several nasty emails. As soon as we calmed the guests down we started reaching out to the media to let them know the event wasn’t canceled and that we wouldn’t cancel the event no matter what happened with the smoke and the weather. It was very challenging to get them to run corrections and share the correct information. In hindsight we should have been more proactive and sent out several press releases right away and increased our social media activity to let everyone know the event was going on as planned.

RibSmoke2013-1

Photo Credit: RGJ.com

3. Make Lemonade
The first day of Rib Cook-Off 2013 our beverage sales were up 12%. I’m not sure if it was because the smoke made people want to drink more, or if attendance was up in general that day but we used this information to make lemonade out of lemons. We knew we needed some positive press to encourage people to attend the event in the smoky conditions. We looked at the event financial results after the first night (as we always do) and we realized they were great! We sent a press release announcing our record sales and that was newsworthy. Right away our local media gave the event positive coverage and shared the economic impact the event has on the community. Our community takes pride in special events and their great economic indicators. We make lemonade out of lemons, and so does the whole community.

Nugget Casino Resort Rib Cook-Off - August 2013

Nugget Casino Resort Rib Cook-Off – August 2013

4. Keep up the Good Fight
One of the biggest lessons I learned from this was don’t give up. When the media is out there with bad information you need to keep fighting to get the accurate information out there. Half of the event attendees come from California, that is a few hundred thousand visits to the event. We needed to fight to get the information out there that no matter what happened with the smoke from the wildfires the Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off would still be there for our attendees. Our team did a great job fighting to get accurate information to California media outlets. Our fearless PR Manager, Lauren Garber, wouldn’t give up until she got through, she kept fighting because it was the right thing to do.

5. Adapt
When you plan special events things will happen that are outside your control. Mother Nature loves to torment event planners. It is important to adapt to whatever is thrown at you when you are an event planning professional. It isn’t always pleasant, but you need to look at the threats that might hurt your event and find ways to adapt and work around the threats. A good event planner can adjust so quickly and gracefully that most guests won’t even realize there was a problem.

I learned many valuable lessons during the 2013 Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off. Even though at the time it was extremely challenging, I’m grateful for the lessons I learned and hopefully this will help other event planners think about these types of challenges and adapt quickly. Wildfire smoke and other natural events are out of your control, but you can control the way you respond and adapt.

Additional Reading:

Smoke, new layout not expected to dampen Nugget Rib Cook-Off in Sparks – RGJ Article

Looking Back at the Rib Cook-Off – Sparks Tribune Article


Rib Cook-Off 2015 Entertainment Lineup Announced

The Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off is September 2 – September 7, 2015. The six day BBQ festival offers a wide variety of FREE live entertainment. The West End stage has about 40 bands playing throughout the event, there is a DJ in the plaza, and the Main Stage is where all the big nightly shows take place. Last week we were lucky enough to visit with our radio sponsors and announce the lineup. One of the perks of being a radio sponsor is you know who the bands are before everyone else. We announce the bands on the sponsor radio stations so they can help break the exciting news to our community.

We always have a lot of fun announcing the entertainment. Here is our radio interview with Max Volume added to a nice picture montage. We made the announcement on 5 stations, but this was the only interview we have saved in an audio file.


Want more information about the Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off? Check out the website at www.nuggetribcookoff.com.


Did you say ALL YOU CAN EAT RIBS?

RibVillage

VIP Rib Village Image Credit: Nugget Casino Resort

It is that time of year already and I’m working on rounding up sponsors for the Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off. This event is the biggest barbeque festival in the country. There are approximately 500,000 visits to the event. I wrote visits instead of attendees because many folks come back every day trying to taste ribs from all 24 rib cookers that are competing in the contest. The magnitude of this event is unimaginable for most people. Last year we sold 241,000 pounds of ribs over the 6 day event. An event this big takes a village, and lots of sponsors.

There are two types of sponsorships for the Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off. The first is the total event sponsorship or national sponsorship, the second type of sponsorship is the Rib Village sponsorship. I will write another blog post later about the total event and national sponsorships; this blog post will focus on the Rib Village sponsorship.

The Rib Village is the most wonderful VIP experience you can have at the Rib Cook-Off. This is the area within the event where you can get UNLIMITED ribs and drinks when you purchase a table through the lottery or through sponsorship. Tables are sold directly $950 each for Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday; and $850 each for Wednesday and Monday. We sell a limited number of single seats at Monday’s Rib Village and sometimes people get lucky and can buy them the night of the event at the door if sponsors return any tickets.

The Lottery is Born…

There is so much demand for the VIP Rib Village tables that we’ve had to start a lottery. Years ago, before I was the director of the event, they used to have a first come – first serve system. People would start lining up in front of the executive offices to buy their tickets, they started camping out just like the crazy shoppers on Black Friday. This started to be a problem for many reasons, but after two customers got into a fight in line the Nugget had had enough and decided they needed to make a change. The only way to make this fair for all the masses that wanted to buy tables was to start a lottery for table purchases. Now we have a link on the website and people all year-round put their name in the lottery. In July we pull the lottery and contact the people that are randomly selected. For those that don’t want to take the gamble and enter the lottery, we offer sponsorship opportunities.

Between now and mid-July I will sell as many tables as I possibly can to sponsors. The rest of the tables go into the lottery inventory. We’ve had nights where there were only 12 tables in the lottery inventory and other nights where there were about three dozen tables. The inventory depends on how many tables the sponsors purchase. It all depends on how successful we are at sponsorship sales, so take my advice, skip the lottery and become a sponsor.

How much is a Rib Village sponsorship?

Rib Village sponsors pay $2,900 for the sponsorship. They receive two tables, each table seats 10 people. They also get to display a banner in the village, their business name is listed on the welcome sign at the entrance, and they have the ability to put flyers and swag on the tables with the Nugget’s approval. They also have the option to buy additional tables without going into the lottery. This is the real value for corporations that use this event for marketing, schmoozing customers, and for employee recognition events.

VIP Rib Village

Image Credit: Nugget Casino Resort

So far I’m off to a good start with sponsorship sales this year. There is always turn over each year with sponsors but we usually make up for the loss of old sponsors with new sponsors. Reno is starting to really see some dynamic changes and new companies are announcing that they are moving here every day, so we expect to see some new names this year. Who knows? Maybe we will get lucky and our new neighbors Tesla or Amazon will become new sponsors. I’m sure they will come calling when they smell the Ribs cooking over Labor Day weekend.

Want to become a sponsor or have questions about the event? Please contact me at Lisa_Jansen@janugget.com.


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