Cantaloupe Festival and Country Fair opens Friday |

Cantaloupe Festival and Country Fair opens Friday

Steve Ranson
LVN Editor Emeritus

The Fallon Cantaloupe Festival and Country Fair rolled the dice three years ago and took a gamble to move the annual event away from the Labor Day weekend.

The decision to hold the festival one weekend before Labor Day has paid off with an increase in attendance, more vendors and entertainers and a carnival.

Zip Upham, the festival’s chairman, said there was some trepidation at first to move the festival from Labor Day weekend, but something had to be done because of the competition in Sparks with the rib cookoff and Burning Man in the Black Rock Desert. Second, the Fallon Cantaloupe Festival and Country Fair decided to re-merge in 2015 to provide one huge weekend show for both residents and out-of-town visitors.

The festival began in the mid-1980s and has become the premiere event in the Lahontan Valley. Rick Lattin, owner of Lattin Farms, said local producers will have plenty of melons for the three-day festival. Additionally, a farmers market will have other produce for sale. The popular festival draws thousands of visitors every year and was inspired by the rich farmland of Churchill County and the produce grown on it.

The festival officially opens at 1 p.m. on Friday and runs through Sunday afternoon. Upham said the first day will have a big evening concert with Hollywood Roses and The Coaches on the small stage.

“Hollywood Roses will be our main act on the arena stage,” Upham said.

Hollywood Roses will give festival-goers a night of Guns N Roses music with the opening act featuring Wily Savage beginning at 6:30 p.m.

Saturday will also be loaded with events and entertainment to the Golden West Air Force Band on the small stage, the band Arizona Jones playing in the afternoon and 13-year-old Makayla Taylor of Virginia City belting out the great hits from the legendary Patsy Cline as a prelude to the evening performance of the Vegas McGraw and Faith Hill act, a tribute to Tim McGraw and Faith Hill. Steve and Raena Blais will also be an opening act along with Taylor on Aug. 24, starting at 5:30 p.m.

Visitors can pre-purchase weekend passes online for $12 to access both nights of concerts.

Earlier in the day, Upham said the cutest cowboy and cowgirl contest will be conducted.

Upham said Sunday will have kids’ games, Mexican dancers, Arizona Jones, square dancers and the Lincoln Highway band. The festival also includes Sam Malcolm, the juggling comedian and interactive drumming with the Drumchik Liz Broscoe. Malcolm, who grew up in Churchill County but now lives in Denver, has been busy since last year’s appearance at the festival, earning the title of Funniest Comedy Act from the Michigan Busker Festival as well as recording his debut comedy album that will be released in the future.

Upham said visitors won’t go hungry or thirsty. He said numerous vendors will be selling beverages, and Troy’s Double Shot Bar has been serving its famous cantaloupe daiquiris at the festival for more than 30 years. As with the past years, Upham said Great Basin Brewery is brewing a cantaloupe ale that will be available at the Elks Beer Garden.

Food items available from various vendors include soft serve cantaloupe ice cream, Hawaiian barbecue with cantaloupe-infused marinade, cantaloupe popsicles and cantaloupe juice, different types of cantaloupe ice cream dishes, cantaloupe shaved ice, cantaloupe bread and Hearts of Gold Cantaloupe jam.

Before the festival officially opens, Upham said the county’s fifth-graders will converge on the festival to see many of the ag-related exhibits. As part of the country fair, various organizations will be there to include the Churchill County Farm Bureau, Churchill County 4-H, Churchill County and Oasis FFA chapters, local beekeepers, the Nevada Department of Agriculture (NDA), Churchill County Museum, the High Desert Youth Grange and many more. The Churchill County Farm Bureau and the NDA will have the robotic milk cow Moolissa for the youngsters. This gives the younger visitors an opportunity to learn about agriculture in the Lahontan Valley and how local farmers and ranchers operate their businesses. The 4H and FFA Animal Barn includes pigs, goats, sheep, chickens, rabbits, dairy cows, steers and donkeys.

The Truckee Carson Irrigation District is bringing its trailer that has an intriguing display demonstrating the Newlands Water Project and how it has shaped Churchill County.

At the north end of the festival rounds, a multipurpose building is displaying quilts, art, photographs and other exhibits.