The word “heritage” as a noun, is defined as “something that is handed down from the past, as a tradition.” As an adjective it is defined as “noting or relating to a product, place, etc., that evokes a nostalgic sense of tradition or history”. And there you have it, an ideal description of Carson Valley and within it, the town of Genoa.
I imagine most people are proud of their heritage, whether it is their nationality or where they grew up. Here in Carson Valley, you can say our heritage goes all the way back to when this was not even the state of Nevada, nor Nevada Territory. Genoa was part of Utah Territory and in the early 1850s longed to govern themselves locally. And for ages prior to the 1850s, the Washoe Native Americans did just that, as the first people in our valley.
Whatever their individual heritage might be, Genoans are especially proud of the fact that their town is the first permanent settlement in Nevada, which played a major role in the development of the West. For nearly the past decade, the town has hosted a weekend long celebration to honor its roots. In the past this celebration has been known as the Genoa Cowboy Poetry and Music Festival and the Genoa Cowboy Festival. This year it is the “Genoa Western Heritage Celebration.” While the event’s name has changed over the years, the same passionate volunteers have remained behind the event, which takes place annually on the last weekend in April. This year you will be able to enjoy the festivities from Friday, April 27 through Sunday, April 29.
Genoa Western Heritage Celebration kicks-off with a BBQ dinner at the Genoa Volunteer Fire Department located at 2298 Main Street in Genoa, on Friday evening at 5:30 pm. Entertainment will be provided by Gary Allegretto the Hamonicowboy. Tickets are $20 each and can be purchased by calling Sierra Chef at 775-781-1236. Tickets will be on sale at the door, providing space is still available.
Saturday is the big day with mostly free activities throughout the town beginning at 10:00 am. Local Washoe will present demonstrations designed to share their rich culture. You will also have the opportunity to meet many of the Virginia City Living Legends, visit a Civil War encampment and enjoy activities designed especially for children.
Chautauquans, who portray notable characters of the area, are also featured this year. McAvoy Layne portrays the legendary “Mark Twain” who actually lifted a “cold one” at the famous Genoa Bar on more than one occasion. Kim Harris portrays legendary stagecoach driver “One-Eyed Charley Parkhurst” who drove these parts with the equally notable Hank Monk. Steve Hale portrays “Snowshoe Thompson”, legendary mailman of the Sierra, who was considered a citizen of Genoa and Carson Valley.
If its music you like, there will be plenty of artists for your enjoyment at different locals in town. The Sierra Sweethearts, Jon and Betsy Elliot, Richard Elloyan & Steve Wade, and Chris Bayer are all long-time favorites who will be appearing this year.
Award winning Cowboy Poets are also on board. Tony Argento and Larry Maurice are veterans of many Cowboy Poetry Festivals throughout our West. If “cowboy” is the name of the game for you, then you’ll also enjoy some Cowboy Fast-draw competition also scheduled for Saturday.
Don’t be afraid to learn a new skill or two. You can attend a talk on horsemanship by Matt Coats and Cindy Hartzell. The Douglas County Farm Bureau will be offering “Ag in the Classroom” for those interested. Also, Gary Allegretto will host a harmonica workshop, supplying a harmonica and songbook for just $25 to those that attend.
If you’re hungry throughout the day, food such as Dutch Oven cooking and beverages will be available. In addition, many local restaurants will be offering their own specials for your enjoyment. Check out Genoa food and drink establishments, such as The Pink House Cheese and Charcuterie Shop , the Genoa Country Store & Deli , The Genoa Bar, Sierra Chef, and Harriet’s Café at 1862 David Walley’s Resort.
Saturday just keeps getting better and ends with dinner, music and dancing at the Genoa Volunteer Fire Department. The dinner will be prepared by Carson City BBQ, and Western Swing music by Richard Chon and the Saddle Cats, and singer/songwriter Dave Stamey. Tickets for this evening event, which will begin at 5:00 pm, can be purchased for $60 each at The Pink House Cheese and Charcuterie Shop in Genoa.
Finally on Sunday, traditional “Cowboy Church” is offered by the Genoa Community Church and the Genoa Volunteer Fire Department, and will feature Jon & Betsy Elliott.
Other Activities in Carson Valley:
In other parts of Carson Valley, don’t forget the Topaz Lodge Fishing Derby ends April 15. http://visitcarsonvalley.org/2018-topaz-lodge-fishing-derby/ That’s only two weeks away. Why not forget your troubles, file your taxes early and head out to Topaz Lodge to celebrate filing ahead of time?
You can also visit historical museums within Carson Valley. Mormon Station State Historic Park, located in the heart of Genoa is open daily and helps to interpret Carson Valley’s beginnings. In Minden, the Dangberg Home Ranch Historic Park is staffed Tuesday through Sunday and would love to give you a guided tour of the historic home. Please call for reservations at 775-783-9417 and visit www.dangberghomeranch.org for more information on the site. Douglas County Historical Society’s Museum and Cultural Center is open during the week and is definitely worth a visit. Check out http://historicnv.org/ for more information.
Each community within Carson Valley has its own unique and inspiring “heritage.” Stay tuned as I plan to share more about each of them in correspondence to come.
History is made every moment, every hour and every day, by every one of us. Make our history count….keep it ALIVE!
— Kim Harris