Candy Dance wraps up today in Genoa
GENOA – By 9:30 a.m. Saturday, the outlying streets were choked with cars. Thousands of people from all over the western U.S. descended upon Nevada’s oldest settlement for Candy Dance’s 89th year.
Fallon resident Karen Laca was hanging out with her 17-month-old granddaughter Grace in front of the Genoa Country Store, where town volunteers were busy peddling 2 tons worth of homemade candy.
“We’ve come the last four years,” said Laca. “I used to come in the ’60s when I had an aunt and uncle who lived in Genoa.”
The scale and magnitude of the event have changed since those days, Laca said, but certain elements remain the same.
“We just come to look, and we always enjoy the funnel cakes,” she said.
Southern Utah resident Richard Jensen was taking a break from his dried flowers exhibition, one of nearly 350 vendors participating this year
“We’ve been doing Candy Dance for eight years,” he said. “It’s one of the two best shows in the West. The other is Swiss Days in Midway, Utah.”
Jensen said he and his wife Susan are originally from Grass Valley, Calif.
“This is our chance to come back to the Sierra,” he said.
Karen Taglieri of Sacramento sat in her booth selling wooden rubber band guns, complete with targets and holsters.
“The people and customers are wonderful, and it’s a beautiful setting,” she said. “Last year, we had a slow start. A couple of years ago, there were snow and ice on the booths, so this is a great change.”
Closer to the Mormon Station museum, in the liquid shade of old trees, Seattle artist Tim Wistrom had set up a colorful display of surrealist paintings, both prints and originals.
“I heard about Candy Dance from other artist friends who’ve down the show,” Wistrom said. “So here I am. So far so good. The response has been fantastic. People are really digging it.”
Passersby seemed hypnotized by Wistrom’s dreamy, post-human landscapes. “Siren’s Brew” showed a beautiful mermaid sitting atop a roadside sign for a sunken Starbucks store. “In & Out” showed the popular burger joint on a deserted beach – seagulls the only creatures around.
“The basic concept is that animals get it all back,” said Wistrom. “Everything comes full circle.”
But artists weren’t the only ones with a hold on the crowd. Fresh-squeezed lemonade and chocolate-dipped bananas also did the trick. Well before lunch time, a line formed in front of Gretchen Burns and Frances Benally’s Indian taco stand.
“We’ve been coming to Candy Dance since 1999,” said Burns, a member of Northern California’s Paiute Tribe. “It’s just the people – they’re really nice.”
As fast as Burns and family could make them, the fried bread shells, loaded with seasoned beef, lettuce, tomatoes and cheese, were disappearing in the hands of happy customers.
“We are a family business, and we have fun doing it,” Burns said. “It’s hard work, but we enjoy it.”
Before the heat set in, Sunridge residents Walter and Nadine Nowosad walked back to their car with purchases in hand, including a steel wall-hanging of the sun, moon and stars.
The couple said the piece will go perfect with their house, which they call “starview” because of the high, open vistas around it.
“Two years ago, we got one with a big mountain and cactus and coyotes that we put in the back of the house,” Nadine Nowosad said. “This year, we left at 7:30 a.m., walked every aisle until we came to that.”
Besides the wall-hanging, the Nowosads were carrying a purple hat and some expanding water beads for their plants.
“It’s all reasonable and very nice here,” Nowosad said.
However, that nice atmosphere couldn’t have been possible without countless volunteers, firefighters and sheriff’s officers.
“I’m coordinating all the law enforcement here,” said Douglas County Sheriff’s Capt. David Aymami. “We have four bike guys and are working with the fire department.”
As of 10:30 a.m. Saturday, there had been no problems, Aymami reported.
“It’s a great event,” he said. “The road department has put up vehicle counters, so we’ll have a number.”
Estimates usually land around 30,000 people, but it’s hard to get an exact number, Aymami said.
People have been coming to Candy Dance since it was established in 1919 as a way to raise money for Genoa’s street lights. What started as a dinner dance and candy sale eventually evolved into the two-day craft fair people now know.
Festivities are expected to wrap up around 5 p.m. on Sunday.
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