Virginia hog smoker wins Sparks rib cook-off |

Virginia hog smoker wins Sparks rib cook-off

SPARKS, Nev. (AP) – A Virginia barbecue master with a flair for playing to the crowd is top hog after this year’s Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-off.

Top honors among the 25 smokers went to Checkered Pig of Martinsville, Va., owned by Tommy Houston.

“It’s our third year here and we’ve never even placed before,” he said.

So he adapted his sauce this year to meet the demands of the region.

“You guys out West like it hot and smoky,” he said. “So we made it less sweet and added a tad more spice and more smoke.”

Second place went to Rasta Joe’s BBQ, owned by Joe Alexander of Plymouth, Ind., who has been competing in the Rib Cook-Off for 14 of the 16 years it has existed and always placed in the top 10.

“I never change a thing,” Alexander said. “They bring in different judges each year and every judge has different tastes.”

Third place went down under to the Australian BBQ team, while the Carson City BBQ Company was awarded the best sauce trophy this year.

First prize is $7,500, a 4-foot trophy and, perhaps most important, bragging rights for a year.

Nearly perfect weather brought huge crowds to the 5-day event for its 130,000 pounds of ribs.

“We just came from Disneyland and the lines are longer here,” said Jeff Freedman, who drove from Sacramento with his wife Gina and three cousins.

Information from: Reno Gazette-Journal