Cantaloupes mean gold for Fallon |

Cantaloupes mean gold for Fallon

Karen Woodmansee
Appeal Staff Writer

Labor Day weekend in Northern Nevada means ribs in Sparks, Civil War re-enactors and a parade in Virginia City and a family-friendly Cantaloupe Festival in Fallon.

This weekend features the 22nd annual Hearts O’ Gold Cantaloupe Festival held at the Fallon Fairgrounds, and it’s full of enough family fun to last through Northern Nevada’s tough winters.

“We don’t want to compete with the Rib Cook-off in Reno or any other major event during the Labor Day weekend,” Rick Gray, executive director of the Fallon Convention & Tourism Authority, said. “First of all, we can’t. And second, we have an opportunity to provide something different. That’s what we want the country fair portion of the event to do. We want it to provide the local charm and small town feeling that many people are searching for.”

The festival tries to do that with activities such as the little cowboy/cowgirl contest, 4-H fashion show and youth speeches, beef cattle, goat, dairy, and poultry shows

It includes many of the traditional contests and exhibits including quilt, flower, and art shows, and photo, woodworking, vegetable and fruit growing, and embroidery contests.

“The country fair effort gets locals involved as well,” he said. “As visitors perceive this as a great local event with small town charm, they’ll come back and they’ll tell their friends about all of the fun they had here.”

The event draws more than 15,000 visitors who can both watch and participate in old-time, rural route fun – like melon-chunking, with both human and machine power, rodeo, pig racing and a battle of the bands.

And for $3, visitors might end up climbing the walls – literally.

The wall-climbing event will benefit the Lucia Collachi-Bell Memorial Scholarship and will take place from 9 a.m. to noon and 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Climbers 17 and under will be required to have a parent’s signature to participate.

Waivers will be available for parents signature and must be signed prior to climbing.

The scholarship fund helps female athletes graduating from Churchill County High School, in memory of Lucia Collachi-Bell who played volleyball and softball, but, according to the committee, was talented at everything.

The scholarship fund began in 2002 when Collachi-Bell was killed in a vehicle accident at the age of 33. Her friends and family wanted to do something that would help care for her then-eight-year-old daughter, Cassie. A trust fund was established for Cassie and the first couple of years softball tournaments were held, with the earnings deposited into her trust fund.

With family assurance that Cassie was well supported and their wish to keep Lu’s memory alive, the fundraiser developed into a scholarship fund.

The scholarship committee has awarded 10 $500 scholarships to female athletes seeking college education through the Churchill County High School Awards Program.

To qualify for a scholarship, students have to play a high school sport, attend a two-year or four-year college or university on a full-time basis and maintain a 3.0 GPA.

For more information on the scholarship fund, call 775-427-3347 or 775-427-2288.

Another don’t-miss at the festival is the Second Annual Kent’s Cantaloupe Chunkin’ Competition, which offers a $500 first-prize for anyone who can chunk a melon closest to a target 175 feet away using a catapult, trebuchet or an air cannon.

The melon chunkin’ contest is a takeoff of pumpkin chunkin’ competitions that take place across the country in the fall.

“This is a different take on the phrase ‘fruit fly,” said Gray. “It’ll be fun to see the machines that are built. It’ll be fun just to watch the cantaloupes soaring through the air, the graceful fruit that it is.”

There are entry fees for each cantaloupe launching division and monetary prizes for all classes. Official rules and entry forms can be picked up at the Fallon Chamber of Commerce at 85 N. Taylor St., Fallon, or downloaded from the chamber Web site at

One colorful event that doesn’t involve fruit is the Antique Tractor Parade and Show on Monday.

The tractors will first participate in the Lions Club Labor Day Parade starting at 10 a.m. and end up at the Churchill County Fairgrounds. They will be on display from 11:30 a.m. until 5 p.m., when they’ll be judged.

First prize is $300, second prize is $150 and third prize is $50, and the public will be able to vote for the People’s Choice winner.

Entry forms must be completed and are available at the Churchill Cooperative Extension Office, located at 111 Sheckler Road. For more information, contact Pat Whitten at 423-5121.


WHAT: 22nd Annual Hearts of Gold Cantaloupe Festival & Country Fair

WHEN: Today, 5 p.m.-midnight; Saturday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-midnight; Monday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

WHERE: Churchill County Fairgrounds


• Advance Full Festival 4-Day Ticket passes: $10 Adults, $8 Seniors/Kids 6-12 on sale at Chamber of Commerce, MWR, NAS Fallon, Jeff’s Copy Express, Churchill County Fairgrounds, Louie’s Ace Home Center.

• Festival day passes: $5 Adults/Seniors, $3 kids 6-12, kids under 5 free.

• Louie’s Ace Home Center ‘s Backyard Grillers Championship: $10Ðincludes festival entry and food on Monday

• Carnival tickets: Advance sale tickets: $10 for 20 tickets.

• At the festival carnival ticket: $15 for 24 tickets. $1 single ticket (all rides take more than one ticket)


• Today: $3 admission for everyone

• Sunday: Senior & Military Day: Seniors are FREE, Military $3 w/I.D.

• Monday: Family Day, kids 12 & under free


• Music: Buddy Emmer Band, Garret Wilkin & the Parrotheads, Clear Blue 22, Obsession de la Sierra, Karaoke.

• Animal acts: Cook’s Racing Pigs, Wildlife Wendy’s Tropical Birds.

• Other acts: Swan Bros. 2-man Circus, Lion’s Club Jr. Rodeo, Carnival, Country Fair, Louie’s Ace Home Center’s Backyard Grillers Championship, Kent Family Magic Show, Train Rides, Kids Bull Riding, Kent’s Cantaloupe Chunkin’ Competition, Classic Car Show, Antique Tractors, Cantaloupe Bowling & Eating Contests, Little Cowboy & Cowgirl Contest, Gold Panning, Children’s Craft Tent, Food Court, European Beer Garden, Farmers Market, Arm Wrestling, Mud Volleyball

CALL: 1-800-874-0903 or 1-775-423-2544

• Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at or 882-2111 ext. 351.