BEHIND THE PLATE: Fallon’s holiday sports fun begins this weekend |

BEHIND THE PLATE: Fallon’s holiday sports fun begins this weekend

A big void encompasses the town every Fourth of July.

The sounds of cattle passing behind the arena gates, horses bucking off cowboys and teams cheering so loud you could hear them from the high school no longer surround the county fairgrounds during one of the hottest times of the summer. The state’s biggest high school rodeo, the Silver State International Rodeo, serves as a consolation prize for teens who didn’t place high enough for nationals and still want to prove they have what it takes to be a great cowboy or cowgirl.

The weeklong event was buzzing around the town as many states and even Canadian provinces visited the Oasis of Nevada to participate in one of the most competitive high school rodeos in the country. These teams brought in a ton of excitement and helped pump up Fallon’s economy. But with the SSIR no longer in the area, there’s been a sense of emptiness over this holiday weekend.

After it moved two hours north to Winnemucca three years ago for various reasons, rodeo hasn’t been a dominant attraction in the Fallon area except for the high school state finals and junior rodeo over Labor Day weekend. But while the SSIR helped fuel Fallon for more than 20 years, other sports have helped contribute to give residents options for how to spend their summer months, especially over the holiday.

Rattlesnake Raceway continues to drive strong and will hold another race next week, just in time for the holiday where dirt-track racers will compete for points followed by a stunning fireworks show. The Ironman Challenge Mods, Sports Mods and Outlaw Karts will highlight the racing on Wednesday and Thursday, while Gen-X and Hobby Stocks will run for points. Racing starts at 6 p.m. while the Outlaw Karts begin at 4:30 p.m.

Top Gun Raceway offers another venue of racing with its quarter-mile drag strip south of town and it continues to hold strong like its counterpart.

Racing, though, takes place this weekend instead of the holiday weekend as $5 Friday kicks off today and then the Summit (Super Pro, Pro and Sportsman), Junior Drags, Street Legals and Diesel Pickups classes race on Saturday. The NHRA Nevada Drag Racing Championships will also run in conjunction with today’s race.

But if racing isn’t your style, Fallon will be hosting the Cal Ripken state tournaments in two weeks.

After traveling to Spanish Springs the last couple of years for all-stars, Fallon won the right to host all five tournaments starting on July 11 at both Oats Park and the ball fields at the regional park off Sheckler Road.

The 12-70s and 11-70s will compete at Oats Park while the 8-under, 9-under and 10-under will battle south of town where the state champs advance to the regional tournament. The only local regional tournament this season will be in Sun Valley where the North Reno community will host the 8-under at Gepford Park.

Along with Fallon, Spanish Springs, Silver State and Sun Valley will compete over the five-day span in a round-robin format before moving to a single-elimination tournament. Each team will play at least three games, except the 9-under because only Spanish Springs and Fallon have teams.

The next three weeks will be one of the busiest times for the Lahontan Valley this summer.

From this weekend’s drag racing to Rattlesnake’s holiday racing and then a five-day marathon of baseball, it should help offset the loss of the SSIR and give the town plenty of options to enjoy the summer heat.

Thomas Ranson can be contacted at