Labor Day weekend at Lake Tahoe: Shows, events on and off the hill

The 31st annual Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook Off runs through Monday in Sparks, Nevada.

Labor Day weekend, despite what you hear elsewhere, is not the end of summer. Summer this year actually ends Sept. 22.

However, the holiday typically does mark the start of locals’ summer at Tahoe, which basically means the start of a slower time of year known as shoulder season. Along with less people, it can feel like there’s less happening around the Tahoe Basin (when are we going to get that Lake Tahoe Shoulder Season Concert Series?).

Regardless of whether you’re a local clamoring for a slower season or a visitor looking for something fun to do during a three-day weekend, we have a few suggestions on and off the hill.

Outside the basin

Don’t get me wrong, it’s damn near impossible to top Tahoe in summer. But every so often, it’s good to head off the hill. It’s even better when you’re heading down the mountain for a specific reason. Like ribs.

Yes, Labor Day weekend in Sparks, Nevada means one thing: barbecue.

The 31st annual Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook Off started on Aug. 28 and it continues straight through the weekend before culminating with the announcement of the winners on Labor Day.

This is no ordinary cook off. The event spans more than six city blocks and features 24 top-notch barbecue teams. Seriously, they’re from all around the country. Organizers estimate between 350,000 and 400,000 people partake in the six-day party. More than 250,000 pounds of ribs are consumed.

While the food (don’t forget about all the delicious sides) and drink is not free, entrance to the venue is.

Aside from the mouthwatering offerings, the cook off also includes live music, arts and crafts vendors, a kid carnival and beer garden.

Learn more about the annual Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook Off at

Not feeling barbecue? Looking for something a little more chill, man?

Off the hill in the other direction, the Dry Diggings festival kicks off in Placerville, California on Friday, Aug. 30. The three-day festival features a strong lineup, with headliners Fortunate Youth, Slightly Stoopid and Rebelution.

The festival is staged at the El Dorado Fairgrounds in the beautiful Sierra foothills.

Camping is a huge component of the festival but sadly all the camping tickets are sold out (make a note for next year) … unless you’re looking to “camp” in an RV, in which case tickets are still available.

You can still (as of Thursday morning) get numerous other ticket packages, including single day, multi-day or three-day passes.

Beer and food vendors will be on site to quench your thirst and satisfy your hunger.

If a super mellow music festival sounds like your idea of a great weekend, then head to Placerville.

Buy tickets and find information at

Casino shows

Casinos are reliable sources of entertaining performances and this weekend is no different.

On North Shore, Crystal Bay Casino has free shows Friday through Sunday night.

Funk Band Big Sticky Mess takes the stage Saturday for what promises to be a great show.

Personally, Sunday’s show by Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash piques my interest, but that can be said for anything attached to the Cash name.

Despite what you might think, this is not another Cash tribute act. It’s original music inspired by Cash and his cohorts.

“It’s always been about honoring the musical ideals of our heroes, and paying respect to the originality, integrity, and independence that made those artists who they are. Our goal was always to find our own road, and to continue to keep the sounds and traditions of American Roots Music alive,” states the bio on the band’s website.

You can read more about the band at and check out for a complete list of shows at the CBC.

On South Shore, Harveys Lake Tahoe on Sunday, Sept. 1, is paying homage to a different legendary group: Queen.

The evening starts in the outdoor arena with a live performance by The Killer Queens, a San Francisco-based, all-female tribute to Queen.

Harveys will then screen a “special cut” of the film “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

The evening then concludes with a spectacular laser light show.

Tickets are available at and the Harrah’s and Harveys Box Offices. Tickets also will be available at the door.

Across U.S. 50, MontBleu is hosting the annual Extreme Midget Wrestling Federation Championships on Saturday, Aug. 31.

Some of you may cringe at an event like this. Maybe you object to the use of “midget.” But unless you’re short in stature yourself, why should any of us care?

If you’re a wrestling fan then you’re sure to have a great time.

Tickets are $20-$30 plus taxes and fees. They’re available at

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