Award-winning cowboy music headliners Riders in the Sky, Hot Club of Cowtown, and the Saddle Cats are among those performing May 3 through 5 at the fourth annual Genoa Cowboy Festival, held in Nevada’s oldest town.
“The Cowboy Festival promotes the cowboy way and the unique history and culture of Carson Valley,” said Brian K. Williams, whom co-chairs the steering committee with Dave Whitgob.
The Grammy-winning Riders in the Sky performed in “Toy Story 2” and wrote the film’s music.
“Besides their 7:30 p.m. Saturday concert,” said Williams, “they’re going to do a special family show at 5 p.m. and perform their ‘Toy Story’ music.”
Tickets are $30 for the main concert, $25 for the family concert. The band is joined by the Reno Brass Quintet and cowboy poet Ken Gardner.
Austin-based Hot Club of Cowtown, which has brought its particular brand of Western swing to audiences all over the world, opens the Cowboy Festival on Friday at 7 p.m., along with cowboy poet Waddie Mitchell, 2012 recipient of the Nevada Heritage Award, and five-time Male Performer of the Year guitarist-singer Dave Stamey.
On Sunday at 1 p.m. the Saddle Cats, winners of the Will Rogers Cowboy Award for Western Swing Group of the Year, will perform their special blend of cowboy ballads, blues, honky-tonk, and other music. They are joined by 2013 Best Solo Musician of the Year (awarded by True West Magazine) Mary Kaye and her band.
Other festival entertainers include saloon piano player David Bourne, Cowboys by Night, and the honky-tonk trio Slade Rivers Band. Also performing are Virginia City-born singer and poet Richard Elloyan, Gardnerville’s own All Hat No Cattle, and cowboy poet Tony Argento.
Admission to most of music and cowboy poetry headliner events is $30, but the festival also offers a treasure trove of Western heritage programs for the price of a $15 day pass ($10 for children 12 and under). The Native American Historic & Cultural Center features artisans, crafts vendors, and presentations about Great Basin tribes and activities ranging from flint knapping to tribal dancing. Specialists will demonstrate bygone skills in blacksmithing, leather carving, Dutch oven and chuck wagon cooking, and the legacy of the vaquero. There will also be displays by muzzle loaders and fast-draw artists.
“We have ranch tours, Dutch oven and Chuck Wagon cooking demonstrations, western dancing, Chautauqua presentations, shootouts, and cemetery ghost tours, in addition to music and poetry,” Whitgob said. “Among the biggest draws are McAvoy Layne as Mark Twain and Kit Carson played by Dick Clark. This year, special presenters are Glenn Ford’s son Peter Ford, who discusses his father’s western films, and Cheryl Rogers, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans’ daughter. She explores her parents’ careers with the films ‘In His Own Words’ by Roy and ‘Dale Evans: A Most Remarkable Woman.’”
Visitors don’t go hungry. Food vendors dish up their specialties in the Cowboy Corral tent, including a traditional chuck wagon dinner on Friday and the Basque dinner both of which will be serving hearty grub at the fire station. A Cinco de Mayo brunch is offered Sunday, presented by the Minden Rotary.
Shoppers can choose from a wide assortment of western goods. Hats, apparel, boots and belts, collectibles, and gear as well as work by fine artists and craftsmen are available at various locations on Main Street.
Passes to daytime events are $15 for adults per one day, $10 for kids 12 and under; three-day pass, $30 for adults, $15 for kids. Concert tickets are $25, and $30. All event packages include entrance to all concerts and day events for $95.