Cantaloupe Festival cancelled for 2020

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Another casualty of the coronavirus pandemic has cancelled a traditional summer event.

The board for the 35th annual Fallon Cantaloupe Festival and Country Fair decided it was too risky to have it this year because of the various state restrictions placed on the number of people attending large events. The festival joins a long list of cancelled events in Northern Nevada including the Reno Air Races, Candy Dance and the Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-off.

The decision to cancel the Aug. 28-30 festival was a difficult one for the board. Chairman Zip Upham said the board felt by August there would be fewer restrictions to hold a big event, but with the recent directive coming from Gov. Steve Sisolak earlier in the week, that thought was dashed.

“We don’t have the capability to put on the festival in a meaningful way,” Upham said.

He cited the restrictions not to allow more than 50 people at an event and social distancing as major factors due to COVID-19.

“Based on the current restrictions and current emphasis on enforcement on mask mandates and social distancing requirements, there is no real expectation that we are going to move to what used to be called Phase 3 that would give us the ability to put larger groups in one place,” Upham said.

According to Upham, the board discussed other ways to handle people attending the festival such as selling a set amount of tickets. Also, when someone left the festival, then another person would be allowed buy a ticket to enter. He added the board looked at dividing the festival grounds and having people keep to 6-foot distancing.

“So in theory everyone could be 6-feet apart, but that’s not the way human beings behave and that’s not the way anyone would,” he said.

Even with ticket sales and the request for social distancing, Upham said it probably wouldn’t meet the expectations from the governor’s office, health officials or Centers for Disease Control guidelines.

Upham said Churchill County has done well with its COVID-19 testing and small numbers of people who tested positive, but if the festival were the only big event remaining in the area, it would end up with much interest and a huge audience.

“That would be a problem,” he said.

Upham said the board has every intention to put on the festival in 2021. The festival began in the mid-1980s and has become the premiere event in the Lahontan Valley. Upham also thanked the city of Fallon, Churchill County and CC Communications for their support.

For those wanting cantaloupes this season, other venues are selling the melons.

“A variety of Fallon farmers are growing the Hearts of Gold melon and a variety of other cantaloupes (Ambrosia, Sarah’s Choice, sugar cube, Tuscan, pioneer, midgets),” said Kelli Kelly, manager of the Fallon Food Hub. “They are available at a variety of venues —Pick’n & Grin’n at the Farmers Market, Lattin Farms at the produce stand and Pioneer Farms sets up on the highway. The Fallon Food Hub has all the melons through our farm share program — one-time boxes can be purchased at any time.”

Grower Rick Lattin said it’s devasting to see the festival cancelled considering there’s a big demand for local food. He noticed more interest in locally grown produce since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s nice so many people want out local produce,” he said.


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