Irish flair meets gourmet cooking |

Irish flair meets gourmet cooking

Jarid Shipley
Appeal Staff Writer
Photos by BRAD HOrn/Nevada Appeal ABOVE:Emily Schoen reacts to eating a mountain oyster while her husband, Scott, in cowboy hat, watches, and friends take pictures at the Mountain Oyster Fry in Virginia City on Saturday. The group, all from Madison, Wisc., are staying in Reno for a convention. Scott Schoen said that once he heard about the event featuring concoctions from sheep testicles he made plans to attend the unusual gathering for the first time. His wife washed the taste down with ice cream. BELOW: John Wood, center, fries mountain oysters while customers wait.

It was only Lynne Gibbs’ second year at the Mountain Oyster Fry in Virginia City, but it was enough to convince her it was worth the drive from Yerington.

“I’ll keep coming back forever,” Gibbs said.

Gibbs said she came with a group of friends called the “group of grandmas” that attend various activities throughout the year. Saturday, the plan was to take in the St. Patrick’s Day parade and oyster fry in Virginia City.

Gibbs said that while she hadn’t tried them all yet, her favorite cajones concoction was the fried oysters with cheese sauce cooked up by the Honest to Gawd team from Reno.

“I like those ones the best. They aren’t trying to disguise it with any other flavors,” Gibbs said.

John Blakemore, a member of the Honest to Gawd team, said they have gotten a lot of praise from the consumers in the 12 years they have been cooking at the event.

“We always seem to be pretty popular and everyone says they like us, but we never seem to win. We won once when we first came up here but nothing since,” Blakemore said. “We just like coming up and partying in Virginia City. We have met some interesting people up here.”

The competition features up to 20 pounds of fries per booth and all cooking must be done in the Bucket of Blood parking lot, without the advantage of electrical plug-ins.

Winners were crowned in the categories of Best Overall Taste, Most Creative Use of Flavors, Best Booth, Best First Time Cook and Best Presentation.

The team calling themselves the Not Kwite Rite Grill and Bait Shop was busy preparing their special Sloppy Joe’s.

“We do it because it’s great fun, but this year we are a little more organized. We got our cooking done earlier so we don’t have to cook while we are serving,” said Phyllis Sargent. “Plus we brought more margarita mix this year, and that’s very important.”

While the brave were tasting the wares in the parking lot, hundreds lined C Street for the traditional St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Among those with a front-row seat were Rio Moreland and Shain Rice.

Rio said she didn’t know a lot about the holiday, but did know about leprechauns.

“St. Patrick taught the Irish people how to read,” Rio, 10, said. “Leprechauns are just small Irish people.”

Farther down the route, Jacob and Kayla Card, both 7, had their own ideas about St. Patrick’s Day.

“We have St. Patrick’s Day because of the leprechauns,” Kayla said.

Jacob said he knew why everyone wore green.

“Because then you don’t get pinched.”

The parade’s grand marshall was Annabelle Shelley, a volunteer at St. Mary’s Art Center in Virginia City for 42 years. The parade also included a performance by the Sierra Highlanders Pipe Band.

• Contact reporter Jarid Shipley at or 881-1217.

Parade winners


First: Virginia City Kazoo Band

Second: Sierra Highlanders

Third: Miriam Blanchette School of Irish Dance


First: Sons and Daughters of Erin, Reno

Second: Giant Leprechauns of Fresno

Third: Eagles, Virginia City Aerie Chapter #523


First: Pony Express Association

Second: Silver Springs 4-H Trotters

Third: Russ and Dani Amaru.


First: Ralf Ekenberg in a 1929 Ford Speedster

Second: Battle Born Early Ford V8 Club

Third: Vintage Ford Club of Northern Nevada.

Mountain Oyster Fry winners

Best Taste overall: Mel Carpenter of Mountain Oysters of Reno

Best Booth: The Casterelli Family, McCastrate Sisters; Nicki Wilson of Dayton

Best Newcomer: Alex and Sage Atreides of Virginia City with the Red Hot Leopard Spots

Best Presentation: Alex and Sage Atreides of Virginia City with the Red Hot Leopard Spots

Best Creativity: Alex and Sage Atreides of Virginia City with the Red Hot Leopard Spots