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A country packed festival

Aly Lawson
alawson@lahontanvalleynews.com

Events for the longest running agricultural festival in Nevada are taking shape when Fallon hosts the annual cantaloupe festival over Labor Day weekend.

Each day of the Fallon Cantaloupe Festival & Country Fair is packed from the acoustic country music duo Love and Theft’s opening night concert to Marshall Brown’s World of Corn to a junior rodeo and new attractions like baby kangaroos.

“Whether you’re a ‘by-yourself family’ or whether you have a group, there’s really something for everybody,” said Kim Klenakis, an event coordinator.

The gates will open Friday evening and soon Love and Theft will take the stage. The band is out of Nashville and they play acoustic guitars and alternate lead singers. The group has several hits including “Whiskey on My Breath,” “Night That You’ll Never Forget,” “Angel Eyes” and “Runaway.”

The opening acts are Road 88 with Rachel Steel as well as Stephen Christie and Kyle Rothchild. A DJ after-party will follow the concert.

Concert tickets and a limited number of VIP packages that include meeting the band are on sale now. VIP tickets are only available online at http://www.FallonCantaloupeFestival.com and include festival admission, stage-front seating, drink tickets, access to the VIP areas and more. Regular concert tickets can be purchased online at or at Big R, CC Communications, Fallon Ford-Toyota or Stockman’s Casino.

Watch the festival Facebook page at http://www.Facebook.com/CantaloupeFest if you want to enter drawings for free concert tickets.

“It’s a great way to kick off the festival,” said Robyn Jordan, communications coordinator for the Fallon Festival Association. “We’re super excited about the Love and Theft concert. It’s been a long time since we’ve had this big of a name.”

More live music over the holiday weekend will be performed by the band Adrenaline, musician Byron Sorensen, the Journey tribute band Evolution and Mark and Friends.

A funny demonstration of cowgirl tricks is returning with Karen Quest, and a BMX stunt team is performing as well as Le Cirque de Vagabond. Drumchik Productions plans to bring kids up on stage to join the drumming and play other percussion instruments. The Halau-Hula-O-Leilani dancers return, and mounted shooters can be seen when the Great Basin Pistoleers Jackpot takes place.

There’s going to be a “cutest little cowboy/cowgirl” contest on Sunday at 3 p.m. on the main stage. Those interested are encouraged to bring their young ones gussied up and show up at the stage beforehand.

Melon-themed entertainment will involve cantaloupe chunking, a melon head contest in the vein of Mr. Potato Head and a cantaloupe derby in which participants may engineer their racers out of the fruit.

New this year will be Aussie Kingdom, where festival-goers can get close with a kangaroo.

Fallon resident Marshall Brown’s “World of Corn” is a recurring classic, where children can learn about and grind their own corn on antique machinery he refurbishes.

“We can better understand that bag of Cheetos,” Klenakis said, smiling. “How it was at some point an ear of corn, before being processed a million times and dipped in orange dye.”

The Cantaloupe Patch Kids Zone will boast country fair and carnival games, obstacle courses, a giant trampoline, a mechanical bull, face-painting, balloon animals and inflatable bounce houses including a spinning contraption. The High Desert Grange 22 will host several new features including baby animal pens and a Lego robotics interactive display.

Moolissa was popular among visitors last year. She’s a full-size mechanical milk cow that helps educate festivalgoers on the dairy industry.

For the foodies, plenty of cantaloupe delicacies abound from jam, juice and smoothies to pastries, melon-glazed walnuts and fresh cantaloupe halves with ice cream in the pits.

“People will freak out if you take the cantaloupe daiquiris out of the program,” Jordan said.

Lattin Farms and Pioneer Farms are offering their abundant supplies of melons including the varieties Hearts of Gold and Sarah’s Choice. There’s also going to be the farmer’s market with other local, seasonal fruits and vegetables.

Food vendors and concessions so far include Chef Aleta, Leanza’s Bakery, Scutters, “Snowie Bus,” S&R Thai BBQ, Rebecca’s Wild Kitchen, Top Gun Restaurant, Treat Yourself, The Old Dry Gulch Saloon’s beer garden and more including cotton candy, waffles cones, Indian tacos and locally grown hamburgers and french fries

“I think it’s just getting back to the basics,” Klenakis said. “It’s about having simple fun and being able to connect with your family without having to do it through modern communication. Because at the end of the day, you see these kids glued to (their technologies) — and all of a sudden they’re up on the stage with their faces pile-driven into a melon or a pie. They’re discovering the simple pleasure of what we all enjoyed when we were young. It’s still pertinent.”

Organizers said last year about 8,200 paid guests and 2,300 children — who enter for free under age 10 — attended. Including volunteers, vendors and rodeo contestants, at least 11,500 to 12,000 attendees were involved. About 28 percent of people who attended were from out of town.

“People come from long and far,” said Klenakis, adding that most use it as a four-day weekend.

Jordan said many combine a Fallon stop with other big events at the time like Reno’s “Best in the West” Nugget Rib Cook-Off from Aug. 31-Sept. 5.“We’re very competitively priced and we’re very family-friendly,” Klenakis said. “It’s got a wide variety. With the food movements and with people getting back to the earth, it’s just wholesome.”

Admission tickets are $5 for those over age 10. Parking is free. Pre-purchased weekend passes are available for $10.

The festival website’s tourist page suggests places to say, other things to do and has travel links related to Fallon.

“It’s a new unique experience for anyone that doesn’t get to spend time in an agricultural setting,” Jordan said. “If that’s not something you’re used to, you can escape to the country. Just try driving 60 miles from Reno or three miles from out of town. I like the fact that at any point during the festival, you can see an FFA (Future Farmers of America) kid leading their dairy cow through the grounds.”

The fair will have an FFA and 4-H animal barn housing pigs, goats, sheep, chickens, rabbits, dairy cows, steers and donkeys

The mud volleyball tournament will be back, and it’s for ages 16 and older with 10 people to a team. The matches take place Saturday and Sunday. Team registration and the $150 entry fee are due by Aug. 26. The price goes up $10 after, with the new deadline being Sept. 2 at noon. Prizes are $400 for first place, $200 for second and $100 for third. Interested players are to call 775-423-7733.

Also part of the festival is a Kiwanis Club Pancake Breakfast on Monday at 6 a.m. on Maine Street in the parking lot between Picture This! and E.H. Hursh. Adults are $6.50 and children are $3.50.

The Lions Club Labor Day Parade — which like their rodeo also predates the festival — is on Monday starting at 10 a.m. at the Churchill County Junior High School on the corner of Taylor and Virginia Streets.

The festivities will run Friday from 5 p.m. to midnight, Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to midnight and Monday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The junior rodeo will run from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

Visit the festival website for sponsor and vendor applications as well as the Lions Club Junior Rodeo application. View the complete schedule of events, parade route, festival shop and premium book.

The premium book provides fair entry information and hard copies are available at the Churchill County Agriculture Extension Office, Churchill County Library, Flower Tree Nursery, J&K Llamas and Workman Farms.