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Discover 12 Pony Express Territory events you don’t want to miss in 2011.
Photo: Bruce Rettig (White Pine Fire & Ice Show); Mike Sevon (4th of July in Ely)
Rattlesnake Hill Trail Run
Runners and fitness enthusiasts should mark their calendars for Fallon’s first Rattlesnake Hill Trail Run on March 12. Registration for the three-mile race is $20 and $15 for participants 55 and older. The post-race activities include awards for overall winners and age divisions.
Lincoln Highway Car Show
The words “Lincoln Highway” conjure thoughts of a time when taking to the open road and watching the miles tick away was more of a privilege than a chore. Austin’s Lincoln Highway Car Show, April 16, brings that feeling to life with classic cars, hot rods, and custom vehicles.
Nevada Open Road Challenge
Many Nevadans fondly remember when the vast empty highways crisscrossing the state had no speed limits. Thanks to the Nevada Open Road Challenge, reliving those glory days won’t land you in jail. The races have special permission to burn rubber on State Route 318 outside of Lund at speeds exceeding 200 mph, and race classes for the event, May 12-15, range from 95 to 180 mph in 5-mph increments to include drivers of varying skill levels.
Oodles of Noodles
Since the first towns started popping up in the Nevada desert, the state has had robust populations of Chinese and Italian immigrants who brought with them rich cultures and delectable cuisines. Fittingly, one of the state’s oldest towns, Dayton, hosts the annual Oodles of Noodles pasta cook-off, May 14-15, putting noodles of Asian and Mediterranean varieties to the taste test. Professional and amateur chefs compete for prizes in the event that regularly draws more than 9,000 hungry guests.
Pony Express Re-ride
To honor the bravery and perseverance embodied by the Pony Express, more than 600 riders will take to the historic trail June 8-18 during the annual Pony Express Re-Ride. The mail passes east-to-west through Nevada on June 14-17, with stops at original Pony Express station locations such as Fort Churchill State Historic Park, Carson City, and Friday’s Station (Stateline). xphomestation.com, 916-332-8382
Cocktails and Cannons
Las Vegas and Lake Tahoe aren’t the only places in landlocked Nevada to find beach parties this summer. On June 24-25, Cave Lake State Park near Ely hosts the third annual Cocktails and Cannons. The popular and quirky bathtub boat race is a regional favorite and draws participants and spectators from around the state. The cocktail party starts at noon, ensuring onlookers are plenty entertained, and a dinner (tickets limited), fireworks, and floating bonfire round out the evening. Cave Lake takes center stage again January 13-15, 2012, during the annual ice-sculpting and fireworks event, the White Pine Fire & Ice Show. elynevada.net, 800-496-9350
4th of July
Parades and evening fireworks in Austin (austinnevada.com, 775-964-2200), Eureka (co.eureka.nv.us, 775-237-6006), Ely (elynevada.net, 800-496-9350), Fallon (fallontourism.com, 866-432-5566), and Fernley (fernleychamber.org, 775-575-4459) celebrate our nation’s birth with traditional exuberance, while other events put their own spins on the festivities. The Fireworks Train and BBQ at the Nevada Northern Railway and Sagebrush Quilter’s 4th of July Quilt Show offer unique ways to celebrate our independence in Ely, and “old-fashioned” celebrations in Austin and Eureka provide a touch of nostalgia. New in 2011, Austin combines its 4th of July celebration with the annual Gridley Days to celebrate the town and nation together. Fernley’s celebrations engulf the entire town with myriad activities, and Fallon’s Silver State International Rodeo, July 4-9, is six days of western fun to “boot.”
Hearts O’ Gold Cantaloupe Festival
From its conception, Fallon has been an agricultural oasis, extracting unlikely fruits—and vegetables—from a once-arid expanse of desert. The town’s famous Hearts O’ Gold cantaloupes take center stage at the annual Hearts O’ Gold Cantaloupe Festival, September 2-5, at the Churchill County Fairgrounds. Upwards of 14,000 visitors attend the Labor Day Weekend event, which includes a farmers’ market, craft and food booths, beer garden, live music, petting zoo, rodeo, parade, and, of course, creative treats featuring the festival’s namesake melon.
Vaquero Days & Senior Pro Rodeo
Nevada and rodeo go together like boots and spurs—two cowboy essentials that are in abundance in Fernley during the town’s annual Vaquero Days and Senior Pro Rodeo, September 16-18. In its 32nd year, the rodeo includes men’s bareback and lady’s bareback riding, barrel racing, bull riding, calf roping, ribbon roping, saddle bronc riding, steer wrestling, and team roping. More than 400 contestants rode in the 2010 event. fernleychamber.org, 775-575-4459
Tractors & Truffles
Back for a second year following a successful 2010 debut, Fallon’s celebration of agriculture, fine arts, and fine food returns October 15. Tractors & Truffles spotlights Lahontan Valley’s delectable array of farmed goods ranging from produce and dairy to meats and even local wines. The event starts with a tour and lunch at Lattin Farms followed by a tour and tasting at Churchill Vineyards. The fresh farm-to-table dinner is presented by award-winning chef Steve Hernandez of The Slanted Porch. The evening ends with a musical performance at the Barkley Theater inside the Oats Park Art Center. tractorsandtruffles.com, 866-432-5566
Thanksgiving Turkey Shoot
Perdiz Sport Shooting in Eureka is well known for it clay shooting events that take place throughout the year. The Thanksgiving Turkey Shoot, November 12-13, gives sport shooters the chance to bring home the bacon—rather, turkeys and Cornish game hens—just in time to put a bird on their dinner tables. co.eureka.nv.us, 775-237-6006
Sights, Sounds, and Smells of Christmas
Even before Thanksgiving dinner has had time to settle, the country typically falls into Christmas fever. Ely kicks off the holiday season with fervor during the week-long Sights, Sounds, and Smells of Christmas, November 25-December 3. Christmas trees decorated by local businesses fill the Bristlecone Convention Center during the event, which includes craft vendors, photos with Santa, live music, and more. The Nevada Northern Railway’s themed Polar Express Train is a favorite Ely Christmas tradition and runs from late November through December. elynevada.net, 800-496-9350; nnry.com, 866-407-8326