Preparations under way for sweet dance

Trent Carruthers/Nevada Appeal News Service Peanut brittle expert Betty Bourne of Genoa stirs peanut brittle ingredients before placing them in a microwave oven.

Trent Carruthers/Nevada Appeal News Service Peanut brittle expert Betty Bourne of Genoa stirs peanut brittle ingredients before placing them in a microwave oven.

Candy makers have been hard at work in the Genoa Town Hall kitchen. The crew is busy making the final few pounds of candy for this weekend's annual Genoa Candy Dance.

The Candy Dance features tons of fudge, peanut brittle, divinity, mint dragon eyes and other tasty treats as well as the wares of 320 exhibitors and local merchants. The festival is expected to draw more than 60,000.

Candy Dance Chairman Paul Williams and his crew began making candy five days and three nights a week since early August. More than 50 volunteers have stirred, boiled, mixed, microwaved and baked nearly two tons of chocolate, including 2,200 pounds of fudge and 100 pounds of peanuts.

"Stress from the candy-making is going down, but the stress level from the upcoming event is starting to go up," said Williams as he carefully wrapped and boxed quarter-pound individual pieces of fudge in the town hall dining room last week.

Williams, who is the Genoa town manager, expects candy sales and the Saturday night dance to net nearly $150,000 at the weekend event. Money raised at the annual event go toward providing road maintenance and services to residents. Funds taken in make up nearly 85 percent of the town's annual budget.

Lynne Bowersock, who is organizing Saturday night's dance at Orchard House, said 350 dinner tickets have been sold. The barbecue features the popular Dave John and Comstock Cowboys.

"Don't miss out on the dinner," Bowersock said. "It is great fun and for a good cause."

Betty Bourne of Genoa has helped make candy for the fair for 23 years. Her specialty is making peanut brittle. The "peanut brittle woman" has worked in the kitchen five days a week, five hours a day to make sure there will be plenty of peanut brittle for hungry Candy Dance visitors.

"Sometimes I see peanut brittle in my sleep," said Bourne while she stirred a concoction of peanuts, sugar, butter, vanilla and salt in a two-quart pyrex measuring bowl. "I like peanut brittle, but I must admit that I do get tired of it."

The peanut brittle connoisseur doesn't mind explaining her cooking techniques, but she steadfastly refuses to give away her recipe.

"It is a secret and I'm going to keep it that way," she smiled while failing to reveal the popular recipe she has used at the fair the past 23 years. "I'm happy to do something for the community."

Phyllis Sampson of Gardnerville is the expert candy turtle maker. The turtle-shaped chocolate-and-carmel-covered treats use pecans for four feet and a tail.

"I read in the paper that the Candy Dance was looking for candy makers, so I thought I'd help," said Sampson, who has only missed one day in the kitchen since the baking began Aug. 9. "I've done a little bit of everything including washing dishes. One person doesn't do just one thing around here except for the peanut brittle woman."

Williams, Sampson, Bowersock and Bourne recently worked alongside youths from China Spring Youth Camp.

"We really appreciated their help," Williams said.

Williams is anxious for the Candy Dance to be a success. Then he will turn his attention to the upcoming Christmas Fair, and Christmas in the Sierra events later this month.

The Candy Dance will take place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Shuttle service will provide transportation to and from the event.

"Come out and enjoy the fun," Williams said.


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