Visitors to Virginia City on Saturday were given an education in preparation and palette pleasures of testicles - flavored with sauerkraut, used in tacos or added to clam chowder.
Saturday marked the 15th annual Mountain Oyster Fry, where 12 teams of gonadologists went all out to prove they knew their nuts.
The competition featured several newcomers and several veteran gonad experts. Renee Barber, 50, of Washoe Valley, was leading the Clammy Balls team through their inaugural fry. Her concoction of clam chowder mixed with cowboy caviar seemed to please those in need of warming up.
"I wanted to compete in the chili cook-off and they asked if I could cook testicles," Barber explained.
Across the Bucket of Blood parking lot that served kitchen central, was another newcomer, both to the competition and the city.
"We are virgin ballers," Pistol Smith said. "This is our first time so we are going to see what happens."
Smith and his wife, Michel, who was running the Balls to the Wall booth, moved to Virginia City just after the festival last year and were looking forward to just being in the event.
"We are doing Oyster Po Boys for something different, and we hope it works out," he said. "We just love it up here. It really has become home."
For the Casterelli Family, they believed this was their year. It was their third time competing and the mother-daughters team was confident. They went with a Mexican theme, serving up Hanging Steak tacos and Eunuch Nachos.
"It's all about the music and the individualism. It's a bunch of different tests with a real 'Iron Chef' kind of ingredient," said Phyllis Sargent, 56, of Dayton. Sargent was joined by her daughters Nicki Wilson, 30, of Sun Valley, and Amanda Sargent, 26, of Reno. They sported matching shirts with the family motto: Siamo Pazzia (We are crazy).
The boys at the end of the row, referring to themselves as Los Huevos Pelones (Hairless Nuts) chose to stuff and barbecue their courage makers, plating them on a bed of couscous and a drizzle of a sweet-spicy Thai sauce.
When results came back, it was the newcomers with a strong showing in all the categories.
Best booth went to Clammy Balls; Most Creative Use of Flavors went to Great Balls of Fire; Best Presentation went to the Casterelli Family and Best Newcomer was awarded to Clammy Balls.
As for the Casterelli family's prediction of finally taking home the trophy - it was dead on as they were awarded First Place in Best Overall Taste.
While the judges made the tough decisions, those clamoring for a taste said it was worth the long lines just to get a sample.
"They are good every year," said Jaime McCoy of Stagecoach. "We will try them all. Half the fun is standing in lines waiting to try them. That's when you socialize and how you meet people."
-- Contact reporter Jarid Shipley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1217.