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Melon Mania: Great Fun Planned for the Cantaloupe Festival

Melon Mania: Great Fun Planned for the Cantaloupe Festival
Ben Bassham, Adrienne Snow, Kim Klenakis and Samantha Horning discuss the Cantaloupe Festival at the Chamber luncheon.

Author: Photo by Jo Petteruti.

By Jo Petteruti

Attendees at this month's Chamber of Commerce luncheon held at the Fallon Convention Center were treated to a briefing from members of the Fallon Festival Association. They discussed the newest happenings for the upcoming Cantaloupe Festival and Country Fair on August 25 through August 27 at Churchill County Fairgrounds. Excitement is in the air over this year's festival with many new events and even more staple events on the three-day schedule packed with fun for everyone.

Executive Director Adrienne Snow was joined by Country Fair and Exhibit Hall Coordinator Samantha Horning, Board Secretary Kim Klenakis, and 2022 Cantaloupe Festival King Ben Bassham. Snow began by talking about the additions they made last year that had doubled the festival in size. "We intend to continue that trend this year as we have some really great stuff happening. The festival has become an opportunity to showcase our agriculture at large. Our goal is to showcase not only the cantaloupe but all of our agriculture. We also have a first-ever CCA/ICA sanctioned rodeo this year as part of the festival, and because it's an inaugural, attendance will be included with your general admission ticket."

Snow recognized this year's major sponsors: CC Communications, New Millennium, and the City of Fallon. The many additional sponsors can be found on the festival's website. Sponsorship opportunities are still available at varying levels, with information on the website. Ticket prices are not going up this year, making business sponsorship so much more important to operating the festival.

Snow said the costs associated with putting on the festival are high, starting with $15,000 to rent the Rafter 3C Arena and the fairgrounds. "The bands and stages cost well over $100,0000 to bring those in. The two circus tents, one for the farmers market and one for the Ag area for the kids cost $15,000, and that's just the start of the costs that trickle in. Everything we bring in costs money, and we have to figure out ways to fund those items – the science guy, the falconer, the rodeo, port-a-potty services. It all adds up to thousands of dollars. The lighting, the staging, continuous trash removal. We couldn't do it without the sponsors that step in who help us put these events on because all of those things come with a cost." She also voiced their appreciation for Walker Lake Disposal and Marshall's Septic "as they have two of the biggest jobs at the festival."

Klenakis added that this is a massive event with attendance estimated to be from 15,000 to 20,000 for the three days. "The work for this year's festival started a year ago, as musicians have to be booked a year in advance." She encouraged people to sign up as volunteers, which should be done via the website. Many volunteer opportunities are still available to assist before, during, and after the festival. Set-up begins on Sunday, August 20, and continues all week. On festival days, help is needed for cashiers, gate checkers, and a variety of other four-hour assignments. The Fallon Cantaloupe Festival's website is https://www.falloncantaloupefestival.com/. Check out the website for the full schedule of events, volunteer sign-ups, and other festival information.

Snow told the group back in the 1920s a gentleman began cultivating cantaloupe in the valley. "It became a cash crop and that was the start of when alfalfa fields went under, and cantaloupe crops went it. Then in the 1980s, there was a resurgence of cantaloupe growing." One of the attendees, a 93-year-young lady added her memories of the festival's early days. "When this started, it was called the Nevada State Fair. It was right over here, and we had the fair, the hay palace, and the rodeo. I remember going into this huge building and it was all the vegetables grown in Fallon. It was beautiful and smelled so good. I still remember those smells."

In addition, Snow acknowledged the board members' efforts, referring to them as a team of volunteers who work tirelessly behind the scenes to put on the event. Horning is coordinating the Country Fair Exhibit Hall where local items will be on display such as hand-made quilts, photographs, and a variety of other items competing for awards in their categories. "Samantha Horning stepped in to pick up where Sue Frey left off. She is running the Country Fair exhibits for the festival, so any questions about the entries should go to her." Snow recognized Michelle Gabiola Rogers and others for their efforts by saying, "Michelle is with CC Communications and runs many things very quietly. She's always right there. Zip Upham, our chairman is an incredible peacemaker, negotiator, and communicator, and a great dresser. Todd Moretto handles all of the entertainment and has a great line-up this year starring Neal LeDoux."

Klenakis also talked about the upcoming King and Queen Pageant on Thursday, June 1 at The Fallon Theatre. "We encourage you to wear your country formals. Dresses, jeans, boots, but maybe not Daisy Duke-ish though. It is a family event." Following the pageant, the theater will be showing the movie, "Doc Holiday," starring Michael J. Fox who portrays a country veterinarian. "We chose that movie because it has a horse race, which was as close to a fair as we could get, and it's free." She described the king and queen's responsibilities as ambassadors in the community, representing the festival at other events throughout the year such as ribbon cuttings and parades as well as having a presence at the Cantaloupe Festival.

Bassham emphasized the importance of the festival king and queen roles. His wife Karen is the 2022 Cantaloupe Festival Queen. "It's important for the pageant and gives legitimacy to the king and queen positions as ambassadors. It was a phenomenal experience." He encouraged anyone interested in becoming a king or queen to attend the June 1 pageant.

Chamber of Commerce luncheons are held on the third Thursday of each month. More information about the chamber can be found on its website, https://www.fallonchamber.com/.

 

 


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