The annual Fallon Cantaloupe Festival and Country Fair will have a new date this year.
The festival committee recently decided to move the event to Aug. 24-27 from the Labor Day weekend, which coincided with three holiday activities: The Lions Club parade and Junior Rodeo finals and the Kiwanis breakfast. The Fallon Festival Association gave county commissioners an update and asked for community support funding for this year.
This marks the second major move the festival has undertaken. The festival and Country Fair merged in 2015 after separating in 2008. The festival, which will celebrate its 31st year, is Nevada’s longest agricultural event.
Robyn Jordan, who was recently appointed executive director, said the 2016 festival was a successful event that incorporated new activities.
“We celebrate agriculture past and present,” Jordan said. “Our committee increased the exposure and growth of the event.”
She said last year’s festival had a concert and increased the presence of 4-H and FFA activities.
“The fair allows the youth in our community to exhibit,” said Karen Bogdanowicz, a 4-H community-based instructor. “The participants learn leadership, communications skills and are able to answer questions on the spot. 4-H continues to take home many prestigious awards.”
The committee had discussed in September moving the event to the weekend before Labor Day this year. Zip Upham, a member of the festival’s association, said too many events over the Labor Day weekend hampered the cantaloupe festival in procuring quality entertainment and a carnival.
“This gives us an opportunity to use the entire fairgrounds for the cantaloupe festival and country fair,” Upham said. “Now we have the opportunity to attract a carnival where it was impossible because of the Labor Day weekend.”
Jordan said the No. 1 thing she heard from the community was to bring a carnival to the festival.
The committee discovered during planning in 2015 that some carnivals are booked years out for Labor Day weekend. In addition, the festival and fair have competed against fairs in Winnemucca and Elko and the Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-off in Sparks. The committee knows it’s taking a chance moving from the Labor Day weekend.
“It comes with a risk,” Upham said, “but it has the opportunity to bring in more local people who want to leave town over Labor Day.”
Last year’s festival attracted nearly 13,000 people for the four-day run.
As with any move, the coordination for entertainment and fair activities has already begun. As with last year’s festival, the fair portion will have popular farm-related activities and exhibits, and vendors who promote various causes or sell various items from souvenir T-shirts and jewelry to food.
The committee has established times for the festival and fair: Thursday, Aug. 24 from 5-11 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, Aug. 25-26, from 9 a.m. to midnight; and Sunday, Aug. 27, from 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
The Fallon Cantaloupe Festival and Country Fair premier books will be out this spring. The books detail exhibit hall competitions including information about contest categories, deadlines, awards, general rules, age groups, the judging system and how to enter, as well as when judging will take place at the country fair.
Rick Lattin of Lattin Farms said he’s working with a Nevada marketing firm to promote the various melons available at the festival.
“They are very aware of the Fallon Cantaloupe Festival,” he said.
Lattin also said the melons — especially the Hearts of Gold Cantaloupes — will be ready on the newly selected weekend. He also said the festival will still have its Farmers Market.
Todd Moretto said his committee has a head start procuring entertainment for the 2017 festival. He is working on finding new events and entertainment.
“With so many acts, we can be more selective,” Moretto said.
Upham said last year’s big show, Love and Theft, was well-received but did not attract the crowd organizers had expected.
“It turned out to be a break-even event,” Upham added.
The festival is also working with a Las Vegas marketing firm to obtain new ideas for the festival. In the meantime, the Fallon Festival Association is seeking sponsors and vendors for 2017. For information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.