Duncan riding the rails into retirement | NevadaAppeal.com

Duncan riding the rails into retirement

GEOFF DORNANgdornan@nevadaappeal.com
Jim Grant / Nevada AppealCandy Duncan, executive director for the Carson City Convention and Visitors Bureau is retiring after 22 years.

When Candy Duncan retires from the Carson City Convention and Visitors Bureau on Jan. 1, she will be about two weeks shy of 22 years as executive director.“This is the right time for me, the right time for the bureau and I feel like I’m leaving everything in capable hands,” she said.During the years, she said the bureau boards have generally worked very well together.“For a long time, it was really very cohesive,” she said. “Board members didn’t have their own agendas.”About the time she leaves, she said, a lot of things will change. “It’s time for fresh eyes to take a look at this,” she said. “They’re going to have a new ad agency, a new director and new board. They have to focus on what they want the bureau to be. Start fresh.”Duncan said she leaves them a first class staff, two members of which have been there longer than she has.Duncan said that, until she leaves, she will do whatever she can to help.“I’m very dedicated to making that transition go as smooth as possible because I really want the best for the bureau,” she said.Duncan leaves a very different visitors bureau than she took control of 22 years ago.”When I started working here, it seems like there had been no concerted effort to really find a product to market,” she said. “The bureau, at that time, was depending on their status as a state capital.”She said they started with the Kit Carson Trail and identifying the historic houses in Carson City, then a Wild West Tour with guides wearing costumes.Those projects developed an idea that is still one of Carson City’s popular events.“There were so many stories, tons of ghost stories to tell,” she said.So they started the Ghost Walk.Another popular event was the “Divine Nine” — a package tour dedicated to drawing business using the area’s nine different golf courses.But those events didn’t really provide an anchor.“What was really the turning point was when the board was inspired by (then Mayor) Marv Teixeira to rebuild the V&T Railroad,” Duncan said. “We all felt it was the train that would really set us apart and stand out. We thought once we get that train running, that’ll be the answer. We’ll be on track.”Ironically, the train was also the most controversial project for the bureau, drawing sometimes nasty protests from a few lodging operators who didn’t think it was bringing them much business.But Duncan is unapologetic. The train, she said, “was developed not so much to make money for the bureau but to make money for the community.”Duncan graduated from University of Nevada, Reno, with a journalism degree but says she quickly decided that wasn’t for her, “because I didn’t like asking the uncomfortable questions.”After working in Alaska for a while dealing with small rural visitor’s bureaus, she thought, “this would be a fun career.”“The whole thing about selling a destination appealed to me,” she said. “It’s been a fun career.”She said she doesn’t see herself fully retired, and sitting around the house. She plans to stay involved with the community — and with the V&T project.But she has a few other interests: “I’d like to have more time to share in adventures with my grandchildren,” she said.And golf: “I’m a terrible golfer but I love doing it. I might get better but I doubt it.”