Carson City place to be for Nevada Day festivities

Nevada's "Battle Born" motto reflects its entry into the United States during the Civil War. Although Nevada became the 36th state on Oct. 31, 1864 - confusing generations of schoolchildren because the anniversary fell on the same day as Halloween - now the state schedules its birthday on the last Friday in October, creating a three-day weekend.

Although Nevada Day activities take place all over the state, no other town commemorates the Silver State's birthday like Carson City. Nevada's capital city schedules the largest parade and more auxiliary events than visitors can take in over the Oct. 26-28 weekend.

The extended weekend provides a reason to visit Carson City when it's adorned with bright autumn foliage. Make reservations early because accommodations fill up quickly for the holiday weekend.

The Governor's Banquet on the evening of Oct. 25 starts the Nevada Day festivities. The affair will be at Reno's Grand Sierra Resort. For information about this fundraiser, call 775-846-1130.

The Nevada Day Fair opens Oct. 26 at Carson City's Mills Park and runs all weekend. Mills Park will feature a new attraction, "Battle Born Days," which includes displays of military weapons and equipment, battle exhibits, historical re-enactments, a gun show, a pin-up girl contest and USO dances.

The biggest day of the celebration is Oct. 27, when numerous activities overlap. Start early at the pancake breakfast at the Governor's Mansion from 7 to 9:30 a.m. Then rush downtown to see the launch of 15 to 20 colorful hot air balloons before the parade.

Flyovers of aircraft from the Fallon Naval Air Station and the Nevada National Guard mark the start of the parade at 10 a.m. The 74th annual Nevada Day Parade will honor Nevada's military men and women and their families. The parade heads through town on Carson Street, usually lasting until about 1 p.m.

It remains an old-fashioned parade. The dozens of entries include military color guard units, marching bands, youth groups, equestrian units, themed floats, costumed Native Americans, horse-drawn vehicles, antique cars and plenty of politicians (the parade always seems the liveliest in an election year).

Several events will take place while the parade threads its way through downtown. The beard contest's winners in nine categories will be chosen from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the grounds of the capitol building. At 11 a.m. in the parking lot of the Nugget, two-man teams will compete for a $6,000 purse in the world championship single-jack rock drilling contest. The event showcases a skill that dates to the early days of mining in Nevada. Other events scheduled over the long weekend include golfing, an 8k run, a treasure hunt, ghostly tours in Carson City, a kids' car derby and a free concert.

Everyone is invited to the Nugget for the 28th annual free Nevada Day Chili Feed from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki continues the community feast begun by former Sen. Richard Bryan.

In honor of Nevada Day, the Governor's Mansion will be open for tours from 2 to 4 p.m. Oct. 27. Call 775-687-3000 for more information.

Also from 2 to 4 p.m., ticketed riders may board the restored McKean Motor Car at the Nevada State Railroad Museum. The car ran its last trip on the Virginia & Truckee Railroad on Nevada Day 1945.

The big day concludes with the Governor's Ball in Virginia City's famed Piper's Opera House. Civil War, Victorian, military or Western formal wear is appropriate.

For details about events and ticket prices, visit

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