Pine Nuts: Genoa boasts western festival like no other |

Pine Nuts: Genoa boasts western festival like no other

Genoa gave rise to Nevada, and Nevada gave rise to Mark Twain, so as a natural thing I gravitate toward Genoa in the springtime for the Cowboy Poetry & Music Festival, and this year’s fandango topped the first two. I’ve been to a couple of goat-ropings and a Governor’s Ball, but Genoa’s cowboy festival has got the bulge on those things.

Bonnie Rogers is the driving force behind this wondrous event – she and 200 dedicated volunteers. An anonymous fan of Bonnie’s left this poignant note pinned to the wall of the Genoa Town Hall:

“The first contact I ever had with a cowgirl was in the 4th grade. Karen Fernstein arrived at Glorietta school dressed as Dale Evans, replete with a coiled rope. Well, during recess she told me up front that she was going to lasso me, which she obstreperously did. However, I was able to deftly shinny that rope down around my ankles, and was about to step free when I made the costly mistake of looking up at her to smile the smile of a man who has been granted a pardon, only to see a look in her eye that freezes me to this day when I picture it in my mind’s eye.

“Before I had the time to raise a finger in protest, she yanked on that lasso, and I guess you know what happened to me, I landed square on my back, which took the breath out of me to where I could not whisper the Lord’s Prayer.

“So it is thanks to Dale Evans and her like, that I have never fully trusted a cowgirl since – Bonnie Rogers being the lone exception.”

The talent this festival draws is exceptional. Noted English author Caroline Lawrence recently received a rave review in the New York Times for her excellent history-mystery series set in Virginia City. Mrs. Lawrence lectured on how to construct a mystery novel, a lecture that would have inspired even the most inept to attempt a thriller.

If I may digress a moment, several years ago I was invited to tell a few Tales of Tahoe as The Ghost of Mark Twain in front of a fire at the stables down at Zephyr Cove. After the tales were told, a young wrangler approached me and asked, “Mr. Twain, could I share a poem with you that I wrote?”

“Son, I would feel honored to hear that poem.”

Well, he rattled off the bulliest poem I ever heard, and did it without a hitch or a halt.

I was mightily impressed, and told him so. “Son, you keep that up and you’re going to be a regular Waddie Mitchell.”

“I hope so, Mr. Twain.” he said with a smile. “He’s my dad.”

Well it gave me chicken skin to hear that, and wouldn’t you know the Genoa Cowboy Poetry & Music Festival featured Waddie Mitchell this year – yes, the recent inductee into the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame.

If you missed this year, do put it on your cowboy calendar for the end of April 2013. You won’t be disappointed.

– Learn about McAvoy Layne at http://www.ghostoftwain.orgꆱ

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