The 32nd annual Fallon Cantaloupe Festival & Country Fair, presented by CC Communications, will take place on its new weekend (Aug. 24-27) with a lineup differing from its usual Labor Day festivities pairing.
The longest-running agricultural celebration in Nevada, this four-day gathering will showcase the famous locally grown Hearts of Gold cantaloupe, the Cantaloupe Corral — featuring over 10 unique culinary plates from Cherry Bomb Catering with melons provided by Lattin Farms — and cantaloupe beer from Great Basin Brewing Company.
The brewer isn’t just infusing beer, said festival director Robyn Jordan, but actually brewing the variety this month.
“We are very excited about the Cantaloupe Corral,” she added, “which will feature some amazing dishes including a Tuscan Tortellini Cantaloupe Salad, Sticky Spicy Cantaloupe Chicken Wings, Bourbon Cantaloupe Pulled Pork Sliders and many more delectable dishes.”
Jordan added the festival date being a week earlier is serving the produce well since the tasty yet temperamental Hearts of Gold are only in prime condition for picking and selling for about a week, she said referencing farmer Rick Lattin; they’re hoping the early heat-up has lent the festival favor.
Attendees will also find libations including the famous cantaloupe daiquiri from Troy’s Double Shot Bar at the Old Dry Gulch Saloon, an Elks Club-sponsored beer garden. Additionally the festival includes a farmer’s market stocked with fresh area produce and the return of the carnival — Shoeppner Shows Carnival featuring 14 rides. There will also be a two-day tribute to country music concert series.
The shows will have “A Tribute to Garth Brooks and Shania Twain” on Friday (Aug. 25) and “A Tribute to Kenny Chesney, Toby Keith and Jason Aldean” on Saturday (Aug. 26). All live entertainment will be included in this year’s $7 individual admission. Presale passes will be $15 for the weekend or $15 per day for a family of four (two adults and two children); ages 10 and under are free.
More weekend entertainment includes The Splash Dogs Water Show, comedian and juggler Sam Malcom, local bands (including Serenity Awaits), DJ dance parties and fun contests for the whole family.
Serenity Awaits was recently nominated for a Forte Award, a Reno music achievement. Jordan also added the concert series is a step up from regular tribute bands since the performers personify their celebrities.
Jordan emphasized all dogs are welcome to join in on the Splash Dogs event and registration will be available online soon. She added there will be many more games front and center, from watermelon-eating and sack races to a baby bottle sucking contest, wheelchair races and a greased pig chase if organizers can locate some pigs.
This year also marks the first annual Kent’s Cornhole Classic with the registration form also soon available online. The competition will be a “winner takes all” of the entry fees.
Other entertainment includes educational demonstrations and more children’s activities. Those in attendance can expect to see staple attractions like the interactive 4-H and FFA animal pens with horses, dairy cows, steers, donkeys, pigs, goats, sheep, chickens and rabbits. The High Desert Grange, Churchill County Museum and Churchill County Farm Bureau will also be back.
The Nevada Department of Agriculture will again be bringing its always popular robotic Holstein cow, Moolissa; she provides a provides a hands-on opportunity for participants to learn how to milk a cow.
The Cantaloupe Festival Queen and King Pageant will be held the week before the event. Those interested are encouraged to email FallonCantaloupeFestival@gmail.com. If there are enough participants, a preliminary pageant will be held the week prior with the final event on the Thursday kicking off the festival. Past kings and queens have received cash prizes and donations from Montana Silversmith.
Organizers are also working on a 5K fun run with a theme in the vein of “canines and cantaloupes.”
More melon-focused fun, Jordan said, includes the cantaloupe derby contest, a cantaloupe shot-put event and more. She added food vendors will be similar to years past including Indian tacos, Korean fare, hand-dipped corn dogs, a churro booth and funnel cakes.
“There’s just going to be so much cantaloupe this time,” Jordan emphasized of the spread and features that will be available.
Jordan added the organizers have received a very positive response to this year’s event date; it also won’t have to compete with Reno’s “Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off.”
“This is a wonderful event for families to attend and see how the agricultural industry has shaped our state, and specifically the Lahontan Valley,” Jordan said.
Volunteers are encouraged. Also the 2017 premium book regarding fair entries and deadlines is available online.
For more information, visit www.FallonCantaloupeFestival.com. The festival can also be followed on social media via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.