Carson Valley Correspondence – December 2017


Carson Valley is “legendary” as the place where Nevada began in 1851.  The Historic Pony Express Trail borders the town of Genoa.  Minden is the town that the Dangberg’s built. Wagon roads helped to establish the town of Gardnerville during the mining boom of Aurora and Bodie. In the early days, Carson Valley was the “bread basket” for Virginia City, after the discovery of silver there, when ranchers supplied the Comstock with all of their fruit, dairy, vegetable, and meat products.

Carson Valley’s three towns are keenly aware of their history and celebrate with traditional festivities at every opportunity.  December is packed with such activities, and I’d love to share them with you.

                                                                               A winter scene on Main Street in Genoa

In Genoa, Nevada’s oldest town, established in 1851, the holiday festivities begin on December 1st with caroling at the historic town church, followed by the lighting of the town Christmas tree and a visit from Santa Claus.  Santa returns to Genoa the next day on December 2nd for “Breakfast with Santa”. Then, on December 9th, Genoa offers a “Cowboy Christmas” featuring country music artist Mary Kaye, preceded by a “Baked Potato Dinner”.  For more information on these events, visit

Just a few miles south of Genoa, the town of Minden, established in 1905, is also celebrating the holidays with their “Minden Holiday Weekend”. December 1st is the “Gazebo Lighting” in the town square with live music from the Douglas High School Jazz Band and a fire pit for S’mores. Children who bring a canned food item or a donation for the Carson Valley Food Closet, will receive a “goodie bag” and a chance to help Santa light the gazebo! More information can be found at the Town of Minden website

You can continue your holiday shopping December 2nd at the “Holiday Craft Faire” in the historic CVIC Hall from 10am-8pm, with music and holiday cheer starting in downtown Minden at 5pm.

For two Saturdays in December, the Dangberg Home Ranch Historic Park will feature an “Old Fashioned Holiday Open House” on December 9th and 16th, where antique toys, cards, clothing and decorations of the Dangberg family will be displayed. Christmas music concerts, treats and hot cider will be provided, as well as a “Your Choice Raffle”. For more detailed information,

                                                                           The Dangberg Home Ranch in Carson Valley

Also on December 9th, the Carson Valley Pops Orchestra will put on their “Winter Concert” at the CVIC Hall, and ticket information can be found at

Gardnerville, established in 1879, is the next town down the road from Minden, with its own much anticipated and traditional Christmas events.  The Douglas County Historical Society kicks off December with their annual “Holiday Gala” featuring their “Gallery of Trees and Gingerbread Houses”. This month-long display opens on December 2nd with a visit from Santa Claus, apparently after he has had breakfast in Genoa.  For more information go to their website at

And who doesn’t love a parade? On December 2nd, Carson Valley’s 22nd Annual Parade of Lights will take place with this year’s theme “Olde Time Christmas in Carson Valley”. The parade will begin in Gardnerville on Main Street and end at Minden’s Town Square. Entries from all over Carson Valley include floats, marching bands, service organizations, as well as whimsical entries.  It is truly an event that brings all three towns together as one community. Get all the details at

This holiday season, Carson Valley is not lacking in dining opportunities. Here are just a few excellent choices, which are among my favorites, and are all located in historic buildings.

                                                                           The J. T. Basque Restaurant in Gardnerville

In Gardnerville, enjoy traditional Basque recipes and family-style dining at the legendary J.T. Basque Restaurant, located in a building which was moved to Gardnerville from Virginia City in 1896.  And you can’t leave there without having a traditional Picon Punch … or two!

In Genoa, the historic Pink House, first built in 1856, is a one-of-a-kind cheese and charcuterie shop and restaurant. And one cannot leave the town of Genoa without visiting “Nevada’s Oldest Thirst Parlor” the Genoa Bar, established in 1853, where “legendary” mixologist Dana Gaworski has a signature holiday drink you’ll love and the saloon is a museum unto itself.

In Minden, authentic Mexican food can be enjoyed at Francisco’s, a Carson Valley favorite, located in the “newest” of the old Heidelberg buildings, built in 1910. They have the best margaritas in Nevada!

So come join us, here in Carson Valley, where our history and holiday celebrations are both traditional and “legendary”!

— Kim Harris