Carson City place to be for Nevada Day festivities

For the past 75 years, the day that Nevada joined the union — Oct. 31, 1864 — has been celebrated with special Nevada Day events in the state capital, Carson City.

Now the largest statehood observation in the nation, the celebration is scheduled for the last weekend of the month. Events planned for Oct. 24 to 27 include the Nevada Day Parade on Oct. 26, the largest parade in the state.

Nevada Day 2013 will mark the start of the state’s observance of 150 years of statehood. Sesquicentennial events will end Oct. 31, 2014. Many activities during the coming year that are deemed iconic Nevada events will receive official sesquicentennial sanctioning. Attendees will see the official logo at 150 events, including festivals, fairs, rodeos, races and vintage car shows.

Other legacy projects are in the works. Many Nevada vehicles are already sporting the new sesquicentennial license plate, available only through 2014. An official commemorative book should soon be available. Beautiful sesquicentennial medallions are also available. Look for roadside historical markers to be enhanced and for more to be installed during 2014. Expect to see special historical emphasis at state museums and parks.

One of the signature sesquicentennial projects will be a mobile museum that will travel throughout the state during 2014, making 150 scheduled stops. The traveling historical exhibit includes 1,000 square feet of exhibit space. Its stops should bring the Silver State’s history into focus for thousands of Nevadans and visitors in urban and rural locations across the state.

So many events are scheduled during the Nevada Day celebration weekend in Carson City that visitors cannot participate in all of them. They must choose what interests them, selecting from such activities as the beard contest, the run/walk events, historical walking tours, the boxcar derby and more.

Some events such as the Governor’s Ball in Virginia City, the Governor’s Banquet in Reno and the Carson City Ghost Walk take place elsewhere or before the official weekend. A family-friendly fair runs all weekend. A symphony orchestra performs Oct. 27.

The 30th annual Nevada Day Pow-wow runs concurrently that weekend at the Carson Colony gym and features traditional food, arts and crafts and dances. The pow-wow attracts Native Americans from tribes across the country and Canada.

Many popular events take place Oct. 26. A hot air balloon launch begins at 8 a.m. Just before the 10 a.m. start of the parade, there is usually a flyover of aircraft from the Nevada National Guard and the Fallon Naval Air Station.

The parade takes over the main street through Carson City for about four hours. Thousands line the streets to watch marching bands, military units, equestrian groups, horse-drawn vehicles, vintage cars, Native American dancers, youth groups, veterans, colorful floats, costumed participants and plenty of politicians.

After the parade, head for the Carson City Nugget, where a free chili feed from noon to 2 p.m. continues a hearty tradition started 32 years ago. Mining teams vie for prizes in the traditional hard-rock drilling contest in the Nugget parking lot. The Governor’s Mansion will be open for tours from 2 to 4 p.m.

Nevada Day is observed statewide, but the biggest events occur in or near Carson City. Although Southern Nevadans must travel 500 miles to participate, veterans of the event think the experience is worth the journey. Make reservations as soon as possible for hotels, motels, rental cabins, bed-and-breakfast inns or RV parks in Carson City or the region nearby. Plan for much cooler weather than in Southern Nevada and dress in warm layers.

Margo Bartlett Pesek’s Trip of the Week column appears on Sundays.