Beatty celebrates its past with old-fashioned fun

Beatty annually celebrates its 1904 founding and historical heritage during Beatty Days, scheduled for Oct. 26 to 28 to coincide with Nevada Day observances. The three-day festival draws hundreds of visitors to the community of about 1,200 residents 115 miles northwest of Las Vegas along U.S. Highway 95.

The whole town gets involved in staging events and activities aimed to entertain participants and observers. The emphasis is on old-fashioned, family-friendly special events, games, races and exhibits. No such celebration would be complete without a parade, live music, wild West shootouts, eating competitions and a few hilarious events such as the Beatty bed races. For details about the festival, visit the Beatty Chamber of Commerce website,, or call 866-736-3716 or 775-553-2424.

Although Beatty is close enough that Las Vegans can make a day trip to take part in the celebration, many visitors plan to stay longer, and Beatty's handful of motels and RV parks fill up quickly. Other options for overnighters include staying in Pahrump or Amargosa Valley in Nevada or Death Valley Junction, Shoshone or Tecopa on California.

Friday's schedule includes setup for food vendors. They will augment community breakfasts for feeding the crowds during daylight hours. Visitors are on their own for evening meals at local eateries. Registration for weekend events such as the poker walk of local businesses and Saturday's Tombstone Run/Walk begins Friday. The model railroad exhibition in the community center and the antique equipment display in the lower park area will be open. In the afternoon, youngsters can enjoy a Halloween party and compete in costume and pumpkin-carving contests. Late afternoon brings a historical re-enactment in the park.

Saturday will be the busiest day of the festival, starting early with the run/walk, the Lions Club pancake breakfast and the start of the two-day horseshoe tournament. The parade begins at 10 a.m., featuring marching groups, kids, dogs, horses, politicians and many participants from the motorcycle and antique car shows, which will take place all day in the upper and lower parks. A chili cook-off will be held, with a people's choice tasting at noon. The bed races are scheduled for 12:30 p.m., with ribbons going to the best-dressed beds and race teams. There will be music, occasional staged shootouts and contests for hot wing eating and root beer drinking and belching. Winners of the motorcycle and car shows and various contests will be announced late in the day.

Sunday is a short day, starting with the pancake feed, followed by a Dutch oven cook-off and tasting session, live music, a hot dog-eating contest, several children's contests and a pet parade. The festival closes at 3 p.m.

For festivalgoers who can find time amid all the planned activities, Beatty and the surrounding area offer plenty to explore. The town that grew up along the Amargosa River boasts a fine museum, located at 417 Main St. and open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Exhibits recall the days when mining was king. After a railroad arrived, Beatty became a commercial center for area mines and ranches.

The ghost town of Rhyolite, once one of Nevada's largest cities, is a four-mile drive from Beatty. Its weathered structures are among the most photographed in the state. On the way, visitors should explore the Goldwell Open Air Museum with its striking outdoor statues, some assembled using materials discarded in the desert.

The Beatty area has become an ecological hot spot with the identification of several rare, threatened or endangered species. On Oct. 27, the Nature Conservancy welcomes visitors to a newly installed boardwalk, information kiosk and interpretive signs at its Torrance Ranch Preserve in the Oasis Valley. Drive north on U.S. 95 from Beatty about 7.3 miles to a side road to the preserve's entrance. A welcome ceremony is planned for 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Arrive on your own or join a bus tour from Las Vegas. Call 775-322-4990, ext. 3117, for details.

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