Director touts success of cantaloupe festival in 2017

County commissioners learned Thursday attendance at the 2017 Fallon Cantaloupe Festival increased.

County commissioners learned Thursday attendance at the 2017 Fallon Cantaloupe Festival increased.

The executive director of the annual Fallon Cantaloupe Festival told Churchill County Commissioners at their regular scheduled meeting Thursday that the 2017 event was a big success due to changing weekends.

“We implemented many things we haven’t had in awhile,” Robyn Jordan said, citing, for example, the addition of a carnival and the Cantaloupe Food Corral.

For most of its history since the mid-1980s, the cantaloupe festival was held during the Labor Day weekend in conjunction with the Lions Club Junior Rodeo and Labor Day parade. Faced with increasing competition from other out-of-area events during the Labor Day weekend, the festival committee decided in late 2016 to move the cantaloupe festival to the last weekend in August.

Jordan said attendance increased 125 percent with the committee selling 12,068 passes. Total attendance was 14,728. Gate revenue jumped to $54,680 compared to $44,250 in 2016. When the county fair and cantaloupe festival were separate operations for seven years, the festival’s gate revenue averaged $27,000. Jordyn, though, said the festival came up short $7,150.

“Labor Day is one of the busiest weekends,”Jordan said. “We had more out-of-town visitors last year.”

Jordan also said the committee marketed the festival with social media, television segments, radio interview, press releases to both Fallon and out-of-area outlets. Part of the draw last year centered on live entertainment that included five acts of country music impersonators on Friday and Saturday nights, small-state acts and other popular attractions such as splash dogs, greased pig chase and Marshall Brown’s World of Corn.

Last year’s festival was helped, in part, by a generous $20,000 premier sponsorship from CC Communications and two grants totaling $25,000 from the Fallon Convention and Tourism Authority and Churchill County.Jordan's information to the commissioners showed the festival 24 additional sponsors from four categories: Gold, silver, bronze and cornhole. She added the festival attracted 92 vendors, which included 10 vendors in the Farmers Market area. A marketing campaign began the week before the festival to promote “Nevada Melons.”

Jordan said Lumegent Marketing is providing a $20,000 sponsorship in marketing for this year’s festival.

By bringing back the county fair, Commissioner Bus Scharmann, who served as director of the cantaloupe festival until he stepped down last year, said he was pleased to see the move increase revenue and attendance. Scharmann said it was prudent to shift the festival to another weekend so not to compete against the rib cook-off in Sparks.

In other agenda items, commissioners considered or took action on the following:

Approved a child support hearing master budget for fiscal years 2019 and 2010 for $12,509 for each of those years.

Approved $1,500 in community support funding for the Rand Hand Rodeo.

Approved a contingency contract with the law firm of Eglet Prince to represent Churchill County in potential lawsuits against opioid manufacturers and distributors.

Approved grant agreement with the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection for continued groundwater sampling at the William N. Pennigton Life Center for an estimated project cost of $19,000 with a required match from the county of $3,8000.

Approved an agreement with Converse Consultants to complete groundwater monitoring at the William N. Pennington Life Center pursuant to the Corrective Action Case ordered by the Nevada Department of Environmental Protection for an estimated project cost of $19,000.


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