It’s fitting that Nevada’s oldest town offers two of the official registered statewide events celebrating Nevada’s 150th birthday.
The 5th annual Genoa Cowboy Festival, May 2 to 4, is one of the 150 sesquicentennial “signature” events by the Statewide Nevada 150 Commission leading up to Nevada Day, says town manager Phil Ritger. The other, of course, is the Genoa Candy Dance, held annually in September.
Ritger expects the Carson Valley Historic Ranch Tour, set for May 2, will remind people that Genoa and the early ranches in the Valley were stable components for the foundation of statehood.
“This is a unique opportunity to visit four different ranches in the Valley,” Ritger said: Bently Ranch, formerly part of the Dangberg Ranches; Mack/Springmeyer Ranch; Stodieck Farm; and Dangberg Home Ranch Historic Park.
Tour guide Dr. Michael E. Fischer, a retired Valley dentist who led last year’s historic ranch tour, said he will draw upon his nearly four decades of working with ranching families. His goal, he said, is to offer visitors a better understanding of Carson Valley agriculture and the ranchers’ deep respect for the land.
Fischer uses anecdotes and humor to keep his discussions moving. “With my love of the past, there’s always a lot of history and family stories that get mixed in,” Fischer said. “I try to make it lighthearted and interesting because a lot of old ranchers were patients of mine and they shared their firsthand knowledge. From 9 a.m. to about 4:30 p.m. you get almost eight hours of full-on entertainment and education, and you get to go places you wouldn’t normally get to go.”
The bus tour begins at the Genoa Cemetery, established in 1865. As the bus rolls down Genoa Lane toward U.S. 395, Fischer will briefly talk about Ranch One, operated by the same family since 1909, the Genoa Hanging Tree and the Foothill Road area, the location of the emigrant trail of the 1850s.
A theme that runs through the tour will be the contrast from early-day farming to modern practices and how ranchers today must diversify as well as engage in sustainable agricultural methods.
Although the tour doesn’t actually touch on the Nevada 150th sesquicentennial, Fischer said these ranches and the families still running two of them reach back to the territorial and early statehood era.
Last year’s historic tour was sold out. Tickets are $125, with lunch at the JT Basque Bar and Dining Room in Gardnerville and bus transportation included. Visitors should wear layers of comfortable clothes and sturdy walking shoes.
Visit www.genoacowboyfestival.org to order tickets for the Carson Valley Historic Ranch Tour, other ticketed Genoa Cowboy Festival events and main stage performances.
. Day passes allow entry to various activities and performances by festival favorites. On tap are cowboy music and poetry; demonstrations; western art, clothing, gear and food; workshops; Emigrant Trail and Genoa Cemetery tours; Native American Cultural and Historic Center; Chautauqua presentations and historical plays; and a bird walk. Main stage performers include Hot Club of Cowtown, Rondstadt Generations, Dave Stamey, Mary Kaye and Paul Zarzyski. There are also many free events.
“You get almost eight hours of full-on entertainment and education, and you get to go places you wouldn’t normally get to go.”
Carson Valley Historic Ranch Tour guide