Yesterday, it was my pleasure to visit local radio stations with my coworkers and announce the main stage entertainment lineup for the 28th annual Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off. Usually we aren’t able to announce the entertainment lineup until late July, so I was very excited to announce the entertainment on the last day of May. Feeling like a bit of an overachiever right now!
This year’s main stage lineup features artists from many different genres. We booked different types of acts so there is something for everyone. All shows are free and there is a fun festival vibe to be enjoyed while eating as many ribs as your heart desires.
Wednesday, August 31 – The Rocket Man Show – Elton John Tribute
I am so excited about this show! We’ve had several tribute acts at the Nugget over the last year and they are some of the most talented musicians I’ve seen. I suspect Rus Anderson’s performance will blow me away! He performs as a young Elton John in a fun tribute show with lots of energy and costumes that Elton John would be proud to wear. Wait… he was proud to wear them! He once owned these gorgeous costumes. This is going to be a high energy, fun-filled show to kick-off the event!
Thursday, September 1 – The Garage Boys
We are pleased to feature the Garage Boys at the Rib Cook-Off this year. They are a band out of Las Vegas and they have a big following in northern Nevada. They are high energy and they know how to rock. The Garage Boys will sing some of their original songs and also perform those covers that everyone loves. From the 80s to today, Classic Rock to Country, they have it covered. The crowd is going to go crazy when The Garage Boy take the stage!
Friday, September 2 – Vertical Horizon
I love the ‘90s! Who doesn’t? That is why we booked Vertical Horizon for Friday night. Vertical Horizon has released three albums. Their big hit was “Everything You Want,” which sold over two million copies. The song was the most played single of 2000. This pop rock band is incredibly talented! Vertical Horizon has several radio hits that are sure to take you back to the ‘90s Friday night at the Rib Cook-Off.
Saturday, September 3 – Jessie James Decker
About 8 years ago my dear friend Valerie introduced me to Jessie James music. Val was obsessed with the Blue Jeans song. It is a catchy tune and it gets stuck in my head every time I hear it. Since then Jessie James has gone on to release several hits. She recently married Eric Decker, the famous NFL wide receiver that plays for the New York Jets. She also stars in a popular E! reality TV show documenting her life with Eric. I really admire Jessie James! She is a savvy business woman with her own clothing and accessory line, reality show, and hit internet channel with online beauty tutorials. She believes in empowering women through her businesses. I admire her for her dedication. She has also traveled to the Middle East to visit troops stationed overseas. She has kept true to her vision and her dreams even when the record companies were trying to mold her into something else. She is a very funny, sassy, flirty, and somewhat unfiltered personality on her TV show. The crowd will fall in love with her during her first song.
Sunday, September 4 – Eddie Money
He has two tickets to paradise and by that I mean the Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off. We are excited to feature the legendary music of Eddie Money. From the late ‘70s until today he has had a huge career and puts on one hell of a show. I predict the VIP Rib Village will sell out Sunday night once the word gets out that Eddie Money is the performer that night.
Monday, September 5 – The Original Wailers
This is the last day of the festival. The concert is in the early afternoon. Burners returning from Burning Man stop by to get their fill of ribs on the way home. We wanted to book an act that would be peppy, bring a happy festival vibe, and draw people from every age group as well as attract the Burning Man crowd as they head home. We found our perfect match in The Original Wailers. Their music is internationally known. The band, with Bob Marley on the microphone, sold over a billion dollars worldwide with their unique beats, memorable and touching lyrics, and amazing guitar sounds. I saw the band a few years back in Lake Tahoe and they put on a great show. I will never forget the experience of seeing them live on stage. They were fantastic! The show will be packed as we enjoy our last concert at Rib Cook-Off 2016.
The Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off will be held August 31 – September 5, 2016 in Sparks, Nevada. The six-day BBQ festival is the largest BBQ festival in the country and features a fantastic entertainment lineup. The event features approximately 40 artists on two different stages. Today we announced the entertainment for the Main Stage. We will announce the entertainment lineup for the Floor & Decor West End stage in the next few weeks. We are just fine tuning the lineup right now. Stay tuned!
Being nominated as one of the best BBQ festivals in the country is a huge honor. Winning means a lot of national publicity for the event and a new level of community pride. We all know that Sparks, Nevada is home to the best BBQ festival in the country, so now we want the rest of the country to know. Six-days of rib cooking and 241,000 pounds of ribs makes this the nation’s winner when it comes to the largest BBQ festival. Now we want the official title as USA Today Reader’s Choice Best BBQ Festival.
A title like USA Today Best BBQ Festival 2016 will also open doors for new sponsorship opportunities. It gives us a talking point when we pitch national sponsorships, and it would be nice to go back to the national companies that won’t give us the time of day and show them we are the best. The bragging rights that come with this title are enormous!
Voting is easy! You can vote once a day on each electronic device you own. That means you should vote using your home computer, laptop, smart phone, tablet, and work computer, as long as it won’t get you in trouble with the boss.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.