The historic town of Beatty annually celebrates its history during Beatty Days, slated for Friday-Oct. 28, coinciding with statewide Nevada Day observances. The small community 115 miles from Las Vegas on U.S. 95 plans three days of family-friendly events recalling celebrations from the mining boom era that gave Beatty life more than a century ago.
The festivities begin Friday at 1 p.m. in the Beatty Community Center with the screening of “Devil’s Canyon,” a newly released movie thriller filmed recently in Beatty. While at the Community Center, enjoy the model railroad exhibition displayed by the Las Vegas Garden Railroad Club open all weekend. Look for costumed characters from the past during a historical re-enactment of the town’s beginnings in the early 1900s starting at 5:45 p.m. Beatty welcomes visitors to its special celebration with music from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m., part of the entertainment planned for all three days.
Many activities take place in Cottonwood Park at the corner of Third and Amargosa streets. Food vendors and craft booths stay open from 3 to 7:30 p.m. At the lower end of the park, pursue a small engine display available throughout the weekend.
Registration for many special events such as the poker run on Friday and Saturday and other races and contests continues from 2 to 7:30 p.m. Beatty Days event planners advise participants to avoid waiting in line by pre-registering at their booth or online at www.beattynevada.org. Click on events and go to Beatty Days 2007. Registration remains open for events during the weekend.
The local Lions Club pancake breakfast from 8 to 10 a.m. starts a busy Saturday schedule. An old-fashioned, hometown-style parade sets the tone at 10 a.m. downtown, followed by an antique car show, a couple of chili cook-offs, a bike show, Old West shootouts, bed races, bike games, various contests and musical entertainment lasting well into the evening hours.
Designed for fun, the bed races at 12:30 p.m. in the park encourage teams to come costumed and outdo each other on decorations for their beds. A liars’ contest at 2 p.m. fosters tall tales and outrageous untruths. Several unique bike games from 2:30 to 5 p.m. promise fun for participants and spectators. At 3 p.m., daring contestants try to hoot and holler after drinking a strong swig of pickle liquor, followed by other contests like tying cherry stems with your tongue or drinking foamy root beer to see who can belch the loudest.
Oct. 28’s events continue the fun and entertainment. Begin with a Lions Club pancake breakfast. Watch camp cooks practice their wizardry during the Dutch Oven Cook-off from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Attend the dedication of a new plaque at the Desert Hills Cemetery sponsored by the Beatty Museum at 10 a.m. “Devil’s Canyon” screens a couple of times beginning at 10:30 a.m. Watch the historical re-enactment at 11 a.m. The popular pet parade at noon always draws crowds. Live music continues, including a high school band performance, at 1 p.m. Afternoon events include a hotdog eating contest. The celebration concludes in mid-afternoon.
Despite the boom and bust cycles that spelled doom for many of Beatty’s contemporaries, Beatty changes with the times. Old landmarks disappear or lend themselves to new purposes. New attractions change the face of the town along the highway near the Amargosa River. Beatty no longer bustles with the railroad traffic of yesteryear, but it still serves highway travelers and provides a tourist portal to Death Valley National Park. It remains vital to surrounding ranches and small settlements. During the busy schedule of events marking Beatty Days, the old town reclaims the hustle of its heyday.
Learn more about Beatty’s history through exhibits of artifacts and memorabilia at the museum. Take time to visit old Rhyolite, one of the boomtowns from the old days lying just four miles from Beatty. Surviving buildings include a house built of thousands of cast-off beer and liquor bottles and the handsome old depot once reached by three railroads.
Margo Bartlett Pesek’s column appears Sundays.MARGO BARTLETT PESEKMORE COLUMNS