Discover Lahontan: State park gears up for family fun this holiday weekend |

Discover Lahontan: State park gears up for family fun this holiday weekend

by Sally J. Taylor

If you haven’t yet discovered Lake Lahontan, this is a great weekend to give it a try. If you’ve already basked on its shores or boated its waters, it’s a great weekend to try something different.

The Lake Lahontan Fall Expo is back on Saturday and Sunday for its fourth run of family-oriented events, contests, music, crafts and just plain fun.

Both days start at 8 a.m. with a pancake breakfast before the crafts and food booths open – nearly 40 of them – and the contests begin. After the daytime activities wrap up Saturday, an evening concert and dance rock the shores from 6 to 10 p.m. with live music from Night Flyer.

During the day, Nevada Gold and Gretchen Woods will perform.

The event has grown substantially in its short life. The expo is the inspiration of Bob Brown, who is now retired from the Nevada State Parks Department. Four years ago, he began working to make the park more usable then wanted to see people use it.

“It was a dream I had,” Brown said. “The day-use area had been let go. I cleaned it all up and thought it would be nice to have families come out again.”

Others in the community around Silver Springs liked the idea. In four weeks, a group of volunteers planned and pulled off the first Lake Lahontan Fall Expo in 2000. Brown said 400 to 500 people showed up. Last year, 2,000 people attended.

“This is what we need down here in this little community,” Brown said of the event co-sponsored by the Silver Springs Chamber of Commerce and state parks.

The number of vendors has increased substantially along with attendance.

“Everything is done through donations, and we’ve been very fortunate to have some really nice donations to make this possible,” said volunteer Lorraine Silva, who is in charge of the crafts, food, and exhibit vendors this year.

Vendors will sell jewelry, leather goods, American Indian crafts, Hawaiian and Asian crafts, children’s items and more.

Besides the pancake breakfast, food booths will have hot dogs and hamburgers, chili, barbecued spareribs and beverages.

Information booths focus on child safety, including Stranger Danger, child fingerprinting and D.A.R.E. exhibits.

Throughout the day are paddle boat races, tricycle races – for adults as well as children – a carp-catching derby, a karaoke contest, a sand-art contest and a chalk-art contest. Prizes will be presented in afternoon ceremonies Saturday and Sunday along with an auction and raffle.

“Every year, we try and add a new event,” Brown said.

Funds raised by the expo itself through donations and booth fees go back into the park. In the past, funds have been used to build a volleyball court and horseshoe pit and to install electricity. Funds from last year are earmarked for a gazebo over the stage, which recently received approval from the state, but not in time for construction this year.

The expo has done just what Brown hoped.

“In 2000, the day-use area wasn’t hardly even used,” he said. “Now you can’t hardly get into it on weekends.”



Saturday and Sunday:

8-10 a.m. – Pancake breakfast

9 a.m. – Opening ceremonies

9:30 a.m. – Horseshoe contest signups

10 a.m. – Registration and beginning for all games:

tricycle races (adults and children)

carp-catching derby

sand-art contest

paddle boat racing

10-11:30 a.m. – Karaoke and open mike on Stage 2

11:30 a.m. -noon – Larry McPhearson talks about the Pony Express

Noon-1:30 p.m. – Gretchen Woods concert on Stage 2

1:30 p.m. – Open mike

2-3:30 p.m. – Nevada Gold plays on Stage 2

3:30 p.m. – Judging for sand art and open mike

4 p.m. – Contest winners announced


4:30-6 p.m. – Auction and open mike

6-10 – Dance with live band, Night Flyers


2:30 p.m. – Raffle, including grand prize of a gas-powered two-stroke motor bike

Park entrance fee is $4


Head east on U.S. Highway 50. In Silver Springs, turn right (south) on Alternate Highway 95. After 4-5 miles, look on the right for the Nevada State Parks Recreation sign and turn right on Fir Avenue. Entrance to the park is on the left at about 1 mile. Past the entrance booth; at the first sign, turn right. At four-way stop, go straight.

Contact Sally Taylor at or 881-1210.