City’s active joining historic to lure visitors

Carson City’s image is about to undergo an adjustment, a recalibration incorporating yesterday into today and tomorrow.

Whether it will work is anybody’s guess, but the change is coming far faster than the V&T Railway chugs up and down the track from here to Virginia City. Just check what Joel Dunn has done.

“I already have a dozen different photos on my wall reflecting what I want: people involved in activities,” said Dunn, executive director at Carson City’s Convention & Visitor’s Bureau. Indeed, there are photos of a mountain biker tearing downhill at full tilt, a horseback rider in open space, people downtown during a classic car event.

A Capitol dome photo has the Sierra Nevada as backdrop, not just tree tops. A logo is in various optional stages, but with the Sierra Nevada image prominent and a different color scheme than had been chosen by a jettisoned public relations marketing firm. Another picture of the state Capitol building is in the works, this one probably with people in the foreground.

Dunn, some six weeks into his tenure, won’t dump the city’s historic and V&T Railway image so much as fold it into his marketing approach with a tagline about the Sierra Nevada town and country experience starting here.

He believes active images keyed to people enjoying events, both at venues and in the community’s ample open space, will pay off. He isn’t letting the static and staged of city historic flavor fade to black, but seeks to fold it into a three-act play: then, now and — in the mind’s eye — for good.

Dunn wants it all tied in prospective visitors’ minds to past, present and future fun that includes a dynamic set of opportunities: sporting events, cultural events, Fuji Park events, downtown events, day-trip events to Virginia City or Lake Tahoe, night-life options and lodging in the city to make people come and come back for more.

Dunn is betting his $83,000-a-year job on it, using local talent to help him forge the marketing scheme he thinks will sell the state’s capital city and nearby Sierra Nevada options. He is using freelance talent like Cat Allison, photographer, Tara Burke, graphic artist, and Kyle Horvath, who does social media work.

Regarding social media, for example, it is helping tout next month’s Jazz & Beyond music festival. Dunn also is working to get a mobile app that will provide visitors information on lodging, restaurants and the like.

And he is about to choose an executive assistant from among 40 applicants to help push his vision. But he says that’s all for now.

“I’m trying to keep the surprises down to every other week,” Dunn deadpanned.

John Barrette covers Carson City government and business. He can be reached at


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