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By Burt Davis
Photos by Burt Davis unless otherwise noted

It was a delicious event. Visitors to The Fremont Experience on Friday night December 7 and Saturday afternoon December 8 were able to sample home cooked chili and barbecue. The cowboy grub was cooked up by five barbecue teams as part of the Downtown Throwdown Barbecue Championship. The event was sponsored by The Fremont St. Experience in conjunction with The Nevada Barbecue Association.  It is part of the yearly Downtown Hoedown presented on Fremont St in honor of the annual National Finals Rodeo (NFR).

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Barbecue team booth

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Poppa Nap is proud of his booth

As a long time fan of barbeque and ten year resident of Texas, this was one assignment I was more than ready to do. Steve Overlay,  president of the association, explained to me that the association’s mission is to mentor and promote the barbeque lifestyle throughout the State of Nevada. Steve said that the five teams entering the contest were part of a general shakedown and that they hope to have 20 teams participating next year. Based on the enthusiasm of the visitors I’d bet that they will have the targeted 20 booths.

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Steve Overlay

As I looked around me, I saw plenty of folks in cowboy garb and otherwise enjoying delicious samples of chili, ribs, chicken, brisket and pork.  The two day event gave guests ample opportunity to purchase the food from some of the best cooks around.  Chili was cooked and served on Friday while the ribs, beef, chicken and pork were cooked starting after midnight on Saturday.

There were five cooking in the contest this year and they took their tasks quite seriously.  The cooks slept by their smoking cookers on Friday night.

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Barbecue cooker/smoker

Visitors had the power to determine the “People’s Choice” winner by purchasing 2 oz. sampling cups for $1 each. Every 10 samples purchased earned 1 ticket to vote for the People’s Choice.

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Visitors lined up for samples

Additional private judging was held to award first, second, and third place victories in various categories. The awards ceremony took take place on Saturday, at 5 p.m. on the 3rd Street Stage.

Crown Royal rodeo riders Wes Silcox (bull rider) and Tildon Hooper (bareback rider) handed out the winning trophies and signed autographs.

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Judges review the samples

The winners received bragging rights as well as gift packages from the numerous hotel members of the Fremont Street Experience.

I was just one of the many food fans eating my way from one booth to the next and then maybe back again to my favorites.  As a barbecue lover, I am looking forward to next year’s event.

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Derek Stevens owner of the D Hotel sampled the barbecue

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Elvis and The Cable Guy enjoyed the food

The 26th Annual Downtown Hoedown was part of the12 Days of Country on Fremont Street Experience with free shows from top country music talents Dustin Lynch, Uncle Kracker, Jana Kramer and Clay Walker on Dec. 5. Additional nightly free concerts scheduled through December 16 were to feature Country Superstars, Jimmy Ray’s Johnny Cash Tribute, Texas/Red Dirt Country Artist Phil Hamilton, Jason Sturgeon, Matt Stillwell, Sam Riddle and Fairchild.

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