Sweet success: Genoa celebrates Candy Dance

By midmorning Sunday, the chocolate turtles were all gone. The peanut brittle - history.

Both delectables had been crossed off the sweets menu at the Genoa Candy Booth with fresh ink. But there was still plenty of fudge to go around, and the lines were still three to four deep to get it.

"We're on track for a very successful, smooth weekend," said Lynne Bowersock, Candy Dance organizer, selling several $5 sample boxes of no-nut fudge to a woman retrieving money from a black fanny pack. The slogan on the woman's shirt read: "Give me all the chocolate and nobody gets hurt!"

It appears as though she's serious.

According to Bowersock, candymakers at the Genoa Town Hall kitchen made upwards of 5,200 pounds of candy for the two-day Genoa Candy Dance.

A refrigerated Model Dairy truck parked beside the booth prevented sweets from melting in the warm temperatures.

This year marked the 84th since the women of Genoa first sold sweets and held a dance to raise money for electric street lights for the small town. Now, says Bowersock, "the Candy Dance raises almost enough money to run the entire town," an estimated $100,000 coming from the festival alone.

The event draws huge crowds - upward of 70,000 people pack the streets of the usually quiet Genoa, temporarily swelling the size of the city and making the annual event full of craft vendors, artists, and food sellers a sort of yin to the Black Rock Desert's Burning Man Festival's yang.

Lifetime Carson City resident, Candy Dance regular and builder Steve Koch remembers when the event occupied just a single building where people sold candy and had the dance. "A bunch of kids would just come and hang out and watch the fights."

Fights at the Candy Dance?

One of the more notorious ones, Koch remembers, was when a notorious biker gang clashed with a group of American Indians in a real rumble.

Though there were no signs of outright violence at this year's Candy Dance (aside from the woman with the T-shirt's veiled threat to hurt anyone if she didn't get her chocolate), there were a lot of booths fighting for attention.

One merchant offered wooden signs with slogans like: "We don't skinny dip, we chunky dip!"

From Grass Valley, Calif., Felecia Renaud's booth featured painted glass light bulbs, which, when lit, reflect patterns or objects onto the wall. It came from an idea she had in high school, and she's been doing it for the past eight years. How's business?

"Good enough to keep me from getting a real job," she said.

One booth offered semi-automatic rubber-band guns in authentic AK-47, M-16 and AR-16 assault-rifle models, some holding a clip of 12 rubber bands at a time.

It was all too much for Fresno, Calif., biker Tom Carter.

He and his wife rode up for Street Vibrations and ended up hitting the Candy Dance on the way home. He waited in the bar while she browsed.

Bartender Peggy Casentini of The Genoa Bar recommended a nice port wine or a cognac to go with the Genoa fudge. But nobody seeking this type of shelter was looking to sip on dessert wines and nibble on bonbons.

Carter ordered a beer.

And then another.

Contact Peter Thompson at pthompson@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1215.


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