Transforming Carson Street into Carson City’s biggest block party |

Transforming Carson Street into Carson City’s biggest block party

Ronni Hannaman
Special to the Nevada Appeal

On Saturday, Carson Street will transform into a huge block party attracting thousands of partiers and foodies who want to sample new foods, enjoy locally produced brews, be entertained, and meet up with old friends. Though the venue is geared more toward adults, the annual Taste of Downtown also is a family affair. Children seem to enjoy the stroll along Carson Street as much as the adults.

What the public sees is a well-thought out event with all the puzzle pieces carefully laid in place. Rarely does one contemplate on what it could possibly take to stage an event of this magnitude attracting thousands to the downtown core.

Let’s take a behind the scenes look at what it takes to put on a 5-hour event the magnitude of Taste of Downtown.

Planning for the next year’s event begins almost immediately after the final clean up from the current year’s event. The staff meets the week following to begin the debriefing on what went right, what the obstacles were, and how to make the Taste of Downtown even better the next year.

A few months before the event, restaurants are contacted, sponsors signed, permits obtained, and planning begins in earnest. The only thing not being able to be controlled is the weather.

However, it’s the day of the event that is the most critical. This is the day when staff and volunteers shine and make it all look so easy.

Now, in its 26th year of bringing Carson’s restaurants to the forefront, Lisa Lee, executive director of Advocates to End Domestic Violence, states, “It takes over 200 volunteers serving two hour shifts and my entire staff of 26 — and some of their family members — to bring this event together.”

The primary responsibility for event coordination falls on the very capable shoulders of two senior staff members. Traci and Terri have learned to anticipate just about every possible obstacle but were taken aback four years ago when having to change the June date to accommodate Epic Rides Off Road that chose the same weekend for their event, taking precedence over the long time local event. They successfully scrambled to find a new date and contact all participants.

From set up to clean up, the dedicated staff is there to make certain every aspect of the event goes smoothly. The set up begins around 9 a.m., and they stick around after the 10 p.m. closing with broom and dustpan in hand to clean up the streets and dispose of the mountains of trash then tossed into the non-profit’s own trucks. No one goes home until every last piece of trash is picked up, and that could mean until well after midnight.

Last year was the first year Carson Street was closed for the event. Previously held on both Carson and Curry streets, Curry Street was under construction, forcing the event to relocate to only Carson Street. Having the entire event on our main street was a huge success. This year’s event again will be held on the closed Carson Street and promises to be as successful with 39 restaurants participating.

Although Taste of Downtown is a major fundraiser for Advocates to End Domestic Violence, the event also helps in introducing new restaurants to the public bringing residents and visitors to the heart of downtown allowing them to see the continued progress of the redevelopment efforts. Lisa Lee states, “This event started 26 years ago to showcase our downtown restaurants and to introduce Advocates to End Domestic Violence to the public, and it has grown as the city has grown.”

Some of the restaurants donate their time and foods as their contribution to Advocates, while other restaurants receive 50 cents per taste. Lee states, “We average paying about $500 per restaurant and pay the bands and other entertainment.”

Taste of Downtown has become a signature event not only for the non-profit, but for the City. Ticket prices have not increased and remain at $45 in advance. Tickets may be purchased online at or by visiting Purple Avocado and the Carson City Chamber of Commerce.