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Discover 12 Southern Nevada events you don’t want to miss in 2011.
Photo: Chris Nunez (Aviation Nation & Las Vegas Great Santa Run)
SCORE Laughlin Desert Challenge
For the 17th year, January 14-16, Laughlin hosts this SCORE International off-road race. Several classes of desert cars and exotic trucks compete from sunrise to sunset on a specially designed, rugged six-mile course in the Mojave Desert on the outskirts of Laughlin. During the exciting Laughlin Leap contest, drivers send their vehicles airborne for a distance of 100 feet or more. Racers from around the world participate in this inaugural race of the SCORE Desert Series 2011 schedule. Last year’s event saw riders compete in 19 classes for nearly $300,000 in prize money.
BransonFest Out West
If there’s one out-of-state town that would fit pretty well in Nevada, it’s Branson, Missouri. Performers who have made their mark in the mid-America “Showsville” will descend on Mesquite, February 7-10, for BransonFest Out West, sponsored by the Mesquite Resort Association. Among the groups performing in the CasaBlanca Event Center will be Elvis tribute artists ERocK and Matt Joyce; Apple, a Beatles tribute band; and Cat’s Pajamas, a vocal band that performed at Oprah Winfrey’s 50th-birthday party. Other activities include a line-dance class in the CasaBlanca Ballroom and a variety show with senior entertainers in the CasaBlanca Event Center. mesquitebransonfest.com, 888-711-4653 x.17
The 2011 NASCAR Weekend, March 4-6, will kick off with qualifying for the Kobalt Tools 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on Friday, March 4 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The Sam’s Town 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series is set for Saturday, March 5. The Kobalt Tools 400, the granddaddy race and the 14th NASCAR Sprint Cup event to be held at LVMS, will take place March 6 on the 1.5-mile superspeedway. It’s not just about burning rubber on the track, though, as 2010 citywide celebrations included an auction, parade, and charity track walk, among others. NASCAR fans can also catch the Dale Earnhardt Showcase display at the Stratosphere through April 29.
lvms.com, 800-644-4444; stratospherehotel.com, 800-99-TOWER
Clark County Fair & Rodeo
The Clark County Fair & Rodeo, April 7-10 in Logandale, has been entertaining western revelers annually for nearly 50 years. What began as Overton’s Moapa Valley Fair in 1965 has grown into a popular Thursday-through-Sunday event complete with art and photography exhibits, concerts, a junior livestock show, and—of course—a rodeo. In fact, the fair was the impetus for the creation of Clark County Fairgrounds, when, in the 1980s, a committee led by Grant M. Bowler obtained 190 acres in Logandale from the Bureau of Land Management.
Boulder City takes the word jamboree to heart in this 36th annual two-day event, this year April 30-May 1. Past years have featured such activities as a 5K run, beauty pageant, fashion show, car show, carnival rides, train rides, climbing wall, arts and crafts, a Bark in the Park dog show, comedians, impersonators, and musicians. Participants particularly look forward to the Saturday night street dance.
ArtFest of Henderson
The annual Mother’s Day tradition ArtFest of Henderson, this year May 7-8, offers an opportunity to spend the day strolling through various arts and crafts booths courtesy of vendors across the nation. Two stages provide a variety of acts, including jazz, folk, reggae, and light rock. Local children also star onstage, all accompanied by fine food that will tempt your taste buds. In the heart of Water Street District, this street fair is a cultural experience for the whole family. 888artfest.com, 888-278-3378
From May 12-15, celebrate Las Vegas’ tribute to the wild west in this outdoor community event produced by the Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks Lodge. Helldorado Days, which celebrated its 75th anniversary last year, is the longest-running civic event in the history of Las Vegas, originally created as a means to encourage tourism to the city upon completion of Hoover Dam. Helldorado Days offers a four-day pro rodeo, parade, carnival, treasure hunt, golf tournament, poker tournament, art show and auction, trail ride, exhibits, and food.
Rockets Over the River
This annual July 4 fireworks extravaganza over the Colorado River is free to the public, most of whom gather along the Laughlin River Walk and the area casino-resorts. The long, uninterrupted shows—some in the past have gone as long as 25 minutes—are choreographed to traditional patriotic music. visitlaughlin.com, 800-452-8445
Las Vegas BikeFest
One of Nevada’s premier motorcycle gatherings, Las Vegas BikeFest will take place September 29-October 2. “In addition to Vendor Village, entertainment during the day, the casinos, the restaurants, the clubs, and the cruising on the Strip, Las Vegas BikeFest will have a full schedule of activities to keep you busy,” reads the official website. Slot tournaments, poker runs, bikini contests, and custom bike shows are a small sampling of such activities. lasvegasbikefest.com, 866-BIKEFEST
Fall Festival & Car Show
One of the largest free public events in Nevada returns to Nellis Air Force Base, November 12-13, when the U.S. Air Force hosts the annual air show Aviation Nation. The two-day event also depicts the history of American aviation and salutes the recent accomplishments of America’s military operations around the globe through numerous military and civilian ground displays. nellis.af.mil/aviationnation, 702-652-7469
Las Vegas Great Santa Run
The Las Vegas Great Santa Run, December 3, brings together thousands of Santas from around the world. In 2009, nearly 9,000 participants flooded the streets of Town Square Las Vegas. The event’s proceeds benefit the men and women of Opportunity Village, a city charity. A morning 5K is immediately followed by a 1-mile Kris Kringle Jingle. opportunityvillage.org, 702-880-4038