SPARKS, Nev. - Jim Clayton of Texas Outlaws is this year's crowned champion of rib cookers.
Clayton, of Elizabethtown, Ky., said his first place award in the annual Best in the West Rib Cook-off is the most coveted rib cooker award in the nation.
He won second place in 1994, his first year at the event, and he said he's been hoping for the big prize ever since.
''If I never win another rib cook-off again I'll still be happy,'' he said. ''This is the greatest accomplishment possible in the rib business. Of the 130 awards we've won, this is the biggest.''
About 144,000 pounds of pork ribs smoked and simmered at Victorian Square for the 12th annual cook-off.
Clayton said Monday his booth accounted for about four tons, or about 8,000 pounds of ribs.
''But last time I checked pigs weren't an endangered species,'' Clayton said. ''They went for a good cause.''
His secrets, he said, are simple: ''Take real care with what you do, use select meats, make up a tasty dry rub and give them a long, slow smoke,'' he said.
''And then use Texas Outlaw sauce.''
Don Johnson of Q Colonel BBQ in Chesapeake, Va., won the Best Sauce prize for the second year in a row. He said his secret is to blend the vinegar flavor preferred in North Carolina with the ketchup base used in Texas.
''That way you hit both tastes,'' said Johnson, a third-generation barbecue cooker.
Second place went to Texas Brothers Bar-B-Que of Dalhart, Texas. Rasta Joes of Rochester, Ind., BJ's Barbecue of Sparks and Aussom Aussie of Sidney, Australia took third, fourth and fifth place, respectively.
About 200,000 people attended the five-day event, organizers said.