A hot summer has produced a sizzling abundance of cantaloupes and other melons as well as other produce for this year’s 28th annual Fallon Cantaloupe Festival that begins today at the fairgrounds.
The cantaloupe festival opens today with formal opening ceremonies at 7 p.m. and runs through Sunday evening. Since 2010, a non-profit corporation, Fallon Festival Association, Inc., which is comprised of all volunteers,took over the event’s management of the event to keep it alive every Labor Day weekend.
Longtime cantaloupe grower Rick Lattin said the summer’s hot weather has produced an abundance of fruits and vegetables.
“The melons with the hot weather this year have done quite well,” Lattin said. “We have a bumper crop … we don’t have a lot of Hearts of Gold cantaloupe, but we have a good supply of hybrids and other melons.”
Lattin said he and Workman’s Farms have produced another type of popular cantaloupe, Sarah’s Choice, and a specialty melon called Tasty Bite will be available at the festival.
Lattin said melon sales at his produce stand are beginning to increase because of the upcoming festival.
“We also have a great crop of watermelons … seeded and nonseeded,” Lattin added.
According to Lattin, growers have a good supply of tomatoes and corn, and he combined efforts with Mewaldt Organics to grow a Lahontan garlic, which is an early, white garlic.
Because the Cantaloupe Festival will not extend past Sunday for the second consecutive year, Lattin said the Fallon Farmers Collective will move Tuesday’s Farmers Market at the Slanted Porch to Monday from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Lattin said the Slanted Porch venue is ideal because it’s on the Labor Day parade route.
Lattin said the nice thing about the festival is its loyal following.
“Our festival draws more out of towners,” Lattin pointed out. “Our vendors do better.”
One of the reasons for the interest is how the festival branched out its appeal. Instead of calling it the Hearts of Gold Cantaloupe Festival, Lattin said the committee wanted to expand the scope of the Labor Day event and showcase all melons and other produce.
In addition to the cantaloupes and other produce available at the festival, Latin said the three-day event will feature a wide array of activities and entertainment. He said the Spazmatics, a 1980s/90s dance band, was a popular attraction last year and returns to play tonight. Chili Sauce, another 80s/90s dance band, will perform later tonight and also on Saturday. A festival schedule and a list of entertainment is on page 27.
Other events at the fairgrounds include a rodeo and mud volleyball.
Action at the main arena will center on the annual Lions Club Junior Rodeo. The competition begins at 8 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday with the finals slated for noon on Monday.
Admission is $3 or $5 for the weekend.
The rodeo is separate from the festival.
The Churchill County Parks and Recreation Department said this year’s mud volleyball tournaments at the fairgrounds include double elimination in the 24th annual Nevada State Championship Tournament and the single elimination consolation in the Cantaloupe Festival Tournament.