Pressure washing and trash collection efforts have been conducted around the clock by Nugget staff members since the curtain closed on the event 24 hours ago.
Crews will be working 12-hour shifts during the next few days in order to restore Victorian Square to its original state, according to Nugget Media Relations Manager Lauren Garber. She said the Nugget’s custodial manager is waiting for vendors to “fully leave the premises before they can get all the nooks and crannies” that need cleaning in downtown Sparks.
“If you were to walk out on Victorian Square right now you might not know that half a million people were there over the past six days,” Garber said. “Today, there are cars parked where we were serving people in Rib Village yesterday.”
Garber said Chief Operating Officer Stephen Ascuaga calls the Nugget’s street cleaning efforts during the rib cook-off “operation Disney.” Nugget cleaning crews cleaned Victorian Avenue 24 hours a day during the six-day event, with several crew members working in the square long after vendors and cookers had gone home for the night.
“Our street cleaning team steamed the streets every night, picking up trash and emptying grey ice from the vendors throughout the day to ensure there was no trash on the street at any one time,” Garber said. “Our whole staff is incredibly dedicated to this event. This is the biggest of the year for the area, and we take it very seriously and we want people to enjoy themselves.”
Cleaning crews were assigned to shine the areas near local businesses on Victorian Avenue first, ensuring that patrons are not deterred from those areas. Irene Adams, owner of Paddy and Irene’s Pub on Victorian Avenue, said she and her employees spent Tuesday afternoon cleaning up the mess inside her establishment.
“We did some general housekeeping, things like mopping, sweeping, taking out trash and mainly the things we did every night to keep up with the crowds coming through,” Adams said. Paddy and Irene’s Pub holds a beverage booth outside their bar each year during the rib cook-off, and were told by the Nugget to have their booth cleaned up Monday night after the festivities ended. Adams said her cleanup was fairly quick, but inside the pub needed attention because the booth “basically becomes your home for a week.”
“For the amount of people that came through here, (The Nugget cleaning crews) do a hell of a job cleaning everything up,” Adams said. “The Nugget keeps people moving along the streets all the time throughout the day. They are pretty prompt in getting things cleaned up.”
Adams said she was amazed by the amount of people who came through the pub during the weekend, calling it one of the biggest crowds she had seen at Best in the West. Aside from the immense amounts of cleaning needed, Adams said the event is still one the pub looks forward to every year.
“We had a good, safe event. Sparks Police, who came by a couple times to check on things, said they had no troubles during the weekend,” she said. “There’s always a mess with a crowd like that, but it was worth it.”
Last year, the Economic Impact Study done following the Nugget Rib Cook-Off estimated 500,000 people attended the cook-off over six days spending $8.2 million in food and beverage. The 2011 event also debuted the Nugget’s “Green Village,” an effort set forth by Ascuaga to make Rib Village nearly 100 percent compostable or recyclable.
Garber said everything from napkins and plates to meat and bones were recycled or composted from Rib Village in 2011, resulting in a 33 percent reduction in trash from the previous year. The green program diverted about 20 tons of waste from landfills and 18,140 lbs waste was hauled to a local company for composting, according to the Nugget.
Garber said the hotel will be looking to further improve on its success of the rib cook-off when the staff meets for a final analysis later this month.
“We always go through every department after the event and try to find out what things we could improve on,” she said. “This year we had some little tweaks and I’m sure we will make more next year to keep improving the success of the event.”