Celebrate Nevada Day at carnival | NevadaAppeal.com

Celebrate Nevada Day at carnival

PETER THOMPSON

BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal Jamie Cohen, 4, right, and her sister Laura wait at the ticket booth for the carnival to open at Mills Park on Friday.

The carnival slowly comes awake.

There’s no tilting or whirling, no thrill-screams or smells of deep-fried sausage blooming from the Midway. This is coffee and cigarette time for booth operators like Tony Johnson.

Leaning against his Stick-A-Star dart booth in Carson City’s Mills Park, the Iowa native wears dark sunglasses and a blue Midway West baseball cap. He’s looking forward to an upcoming six-week layoff.

“Then it’s back on the road in January,” he says. “We’ll play in Texas and then head up to Utah then New Mexico.”

Another fellow comes over, sits down, lights up and takes a strong pull from his oversized coffee mug. People come and go, adding to the conversation then disappearing, rushing off to finish this or that before the noon opening.

“It took about five to six hours to set up,” he says. “Sometimes it can be more like nine to 10 hours. It takes about an hour per game. Of course, it’s a lot easier to take everything down.”

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The wind whips a Confederate flag in a nearby booth. The sun slowly lifts the chill out of the air. The blinking lights from stomach-dumping rides like the Gravitron start to come on line. Typical souvenirs like West Coast Choppers gear and plush Spongebob Squarepants dolls hang from display racks.

“In this kind of business, you definitely don’t want a family,” Johnson says.

A man comes by and asks where he can get some kerosene.

“For us, 24-hour power is an excitement,” the man said. “We live on kerosene. No kerosene, no heat.” The guy does a little jig of sorts, then moves on in a different direction.

Johnson then reconsiders a bit and adds that the people he works with are a family.

But like any family, there are bills to pay. For many of the vendors, high gas prices have raised quite a bit of ire.

“Just to bring the food wagon in cost me an extra $50 this year,” says Tom Shine, of Arizona, whose booth sells typical carnival fare like corn dogs, curly fries and hot dogs.

Shirl Tiner, who runs the knife/sword/studded belt booth (and proprietor of http://www.myknifelady.com) made the trip from Fresno, Calif., with her impressive supply of collectible hatchets, silver axes and ninja throwing stars. Wearing a large dollar-sign chain around her neck, she says she expects a good turnout for the Nevada Day celebration.

“The Sword of Darkness is one of the best sellers,” she noted, showing off some of the finest in neo-medieval wares.

The fair is sponsored by Carson City’s Retired Senior Volunteer Program.

Retired Carson City police officer Gladys Brister, one of the volunteers at the carnival, said the program leaves winners on all sides, as it gives seniors a chance to live at home without the inconvenience or public expense of being institutionalized in nursing homes.

The carnival in Mills Park will run from noon until midnight today and Sunday.

Contact reporter Peter Thompson at pthompson@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1215.

Schedule of Events today

• Nevada Day Parade, around 10 a.m., Carson Street between William and Stewart streets.

• Beard contest, half hour after the parade ends on the Capitol steps.

• Fifth Annual Silver State Rumble, 3 p.m. at Stewart Gym, 5500 Snyder Avenue. $8 for adults, $5 for seniors, free for children under 12.

• Chili feed from noon-3 p.m. in Carson Nugget’s upstairs ballroom.

• Single-Jack Drilling Contest, 11:05 a.m. in the Carson Nugget west parking lot.

• International Tribute to Elvis Contest, 2 p.m. at the Plaza Hotel convention center, 801 S. Carson St. Free.

• Nevada Day Music & Heritage Festival, 4-9 p.m. at the Brewery Arts Center, 449 W. King St. Free.

• Mad Hatter Ball, potluck begins at 6 p.m. Dance until 10:30 p.m. Upstairs of Brewery Arts Center, 449 W. King St. $10 in advance; $12 at door; $6 children.

• RSVP Fireworks and Carnival. Fireworks begin about 7:15 p.m. Best viewing is from Mills Park. Carnival hours: today and Sunday, noon-midnight.

• La ka Le’l Be Pow-Wow at Carson Colony Gym, 2700 S. Curry St. 3-5 p.m. (gym open at 1) and 7 p.m. (gym closes at midnight).