CARSON CITY – The Wild West looms large in the national consciousness. Immortalized in spaghetti westerns and celebrated in books and song, the West evokes ideas of rugged individualism and Manifest Destiny, the 19th century belief that America was destined to expand across the continent.
Nevada offers plenty of ways to connect with that Western mystique, from events that celebrate Western culture to historical sites marking pioneer paths. Here’s a look at a few upcoming events:
- · Ranch Hand Rodeo, Feb. 27 to March 3 in Winnemucca. Watch as 30 teams compete for bragging rights and prizes in saddle bronc riding, calf roping, team roping and other categories. Browse the trade show for saddles, horse-related tack and other items necessary to the cowboy and cowgirl. Kids can compete in the pee wee events and cow dogs will show their skills during the Cow Dog Trial.Be sure to mark your calendars for upcoming rodeos in Nevada, including the ‘Wildest, Richest Rodeo in the West,’ the Reno Rodeo, June 20-29; as well as the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo — the culmination of the national rodeo season — Dec. 5-14 in Las Vegas.
- · Rocky Mountain Oyster Fry and St. Patrick’s Day Parade, March 16 in Virginia City. Foodies and the just plain curious may want to sample the unusual fare at this festival — bull calf testicles, a novelty dish in the American West where cattle are raised. This year’s event combines the food adventure with Saint Patrick’s Day events, including a parade and leprechaun bar crawl.While you’re in Virginia City, take in the Wild West history infused in the town’s wooden boardwalks and 19th century buildings. The mining town developed after the 1859 discovery of gold and silver in nearby Six Mile Canyon — before Nevada was even a state — and once was home to Mark Twain, who worked at the Territorial Enterprise newspaper in the early 1860s.
- · Genoa Cowboy Poetry Festival, May 3-5 in Genoa. Western culture is celebrated at this event, which includes performances by cowboy poets such as Waddie Mitchell and music groups such as Riders in the Sky. Workshops on leather carving, Dutch oven cooking, historical figures from the Old West and more round out the events, along with ranch tours and dances.Look ahead to 2014 for the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko. The event, held early in the year, will be celebrating its 30th anniversary with performances, workshops, tours and activities celebrating the American West.
For more on exploring Nevada’s Wild West, visit TravelNevada.com.
Chris Moran has lived in Reno since 1996, and currently works at the Nevada Division of Tourism as a public relations specialist. She is a former editor and writer at the Reno Gazette-Journal, and has a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of California, Berkeley. Her hobbies include skiing, hiking, reading, photography, coffee and coffeehouses, and exploring Nevada. Check out her blog at www.ChrisinNevada.wordpress.com.