They came for the noodles, but there were oodles of other things to do and see and buy for the record number of people who showed up for the seventh annual Oodles of Noodles Cook-off along Pike Street in Dayton on Saturday.
Bill Conour and Sheila Heflin of Dayton brought their two dogs, B.J. and Sierra, to the festival. They hadn't expected to see their dogs' vet, Dayton Valley Vet Hospital, among the eight chefs competing in the cook-off. But they weren't surprised.
"They're real family-oriented," Conour said. "They always know the dogs' names and their owners."
Heflin agreed. "I told her, 'We have Sierra and B.J. here with us.' She went to pet them, but said, 'Oh, sorry, I can't. I'm serving."
Nearly 130 booths lined the street, peddling jewelry, yard ornaments, paintings, insurance and seemingly everything in between.
The Lyon County Democrats hosted a fundraiser from their booth.
Raffle prizes included gift certificates for dinner, and golf and artwork by local artists. Two dollars bought you a chance to win a life-size cardboard cutout of either presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. For $3, you could get your picture taken with them.
But Saturday's true mission was to find determine Dayton's best noodle. A team of judges determines the best pasta, but the crowd chooses the coveted People's Choice by casting a vote after sampling the fare. More than 1,050 tickets were sold by the Dayton Valley Chamber of Commerce, which hosts the annual event.
American Family Insurance swept the competition, winning first place both from the judges and the people's vote. But they weren't hoarding their secrets.
Tasters were invited to leave contact information, and agent Kathy McClintock promised to send the recipe she learned at a cooking class in Carson Valley.
But she couldn't guarantee the results.
"I've taken the recipe and taken liberties with it," McClintock said. "What I made this morning probably doesn't taste anything like what we're serving now. I ran out of basil, so I added more capers and Kalamata olives."
A fresh supply of basil came in, so she again changed the recipe she cooked on a camp stove.
"But that's the fun of cooking - taking the basic recipe and playing with it," she said.
Cody Thompson attended this year for the first time.
He liked Slot World's spaghetti - "it was grubbin'" he said, but he hadn't made his final choice.
"I'm still cruisin'," he said.
Ashley Sullivan of Carson City hadn't made up her mind either. But she did find restaurants she was interested in.
"I know I want to eat at J's and Compadres, and it's just a 15-minute drive."
• Contact reporter Teri Vance at email@example.com or 881-1272.