Back in 1900, a prospector named Jim Butler struck silver while searching for his lost burro in the area that soon became Tonopah, Nevada. Decades ago, miners and townspeople decided to honor the town’s heritage with an annual celebration, Jim Butler Days, featuring all manner of old-fashioned fun, including a parade, friendly competitions, and feats of strength. Back then, arm-wresting championships and mucking and drilling challenges were all the rage.
Well, some things haven’t changed much. This year, the 43rd annual Jim Butler Days celebration features something for everyone, from a pancake breakfast to a parade, from barbecue to beer pong. But ask around, “What’s the talk of the town?” and the first thing locals say is that they can’t wait to see those old-time mining challenges.
Bob Perchetti, Event Chairman, MC, and owner of the Clown Motel, has been attending the festival since he was a boy. “This is my 43rd year working on the celebration,” he says. “Both my father and my grandfathers were underground miners. From day one, I loved the moving events.”
When Bob says “moving events,” he means: Who can move a ton of rock and ore off of a slick sheet into an ore car with their bare hands and a shovel the fastest? (A few recent champs have done it in under two minutes!) Move over, NASCAR and Super Bowl! Now this is a sporting event!
“People come from out of state for the mucking and drilling championships,” adds Heather Ingalls, Manager of the Tonopah Historic Mining Park, which is open to visitors during the event.
Highlights also include live music, gold-panning, a chance to test your strength against Town Manager James Eason, who also happens to be Tonopah’s reigning arm-wrestling champion, in the Nevada Pro-Am Arm Wrestling Championship Sunday. Check the event schedule for the wine tasting at the historic Mizpah Hotel, craft bazaar, cancer benefit walk, and over 20 more events.
What makes Tonopah such a great place for a festival? Just ask Bob: “Tonopah’s always been the hub, the center of Nevada,” he says. “Tonopah’s a place where we’ve always had good people. Must be something the air, something in the water.”
See what we mean? Some things don’t change much. Come see for yourself at Jim Butler Days.
JIM BUTLER DAY EVENTS
Wednesday, May 22
6 p.m. – Jim Butler Days Junior Queen Pageant, King & Queen Coronation, Tonopah Convention Center
Thursday, May 23
6 p.m. – Jim Butler Days Talent Show, Tonopah Convention Center
Friday, May 24
Starting at noon – Jim Butler Days vendor sales, Main Street parking lot
7-11 p.m. – Jim Butler Days street dance, Main Street parking lot,
8 p.m. – Jim Butler Days Bartenders & Waitress ace, Main Street parking lot
Saturday, May 25
7-10 a.m. – Boy Scout Pancake Breakfast, Tonopah Elks Lodge
10 a.m. – Jim Butler Days parade, “From Sagebrush to Silver to Solar,” Main Street
After parade – Nevada State Mining Championships, Tonopah Historic Mining Park
11 a.m. – 1 p.m. – Mizpah Hotel Wine Tasting, Mizpah Hotel lobby
10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Jim Butler Days gold panning event, Tonopah Mining Park
10 a.m. – 4 p.m. – Jim Butler Days craft bazaar, Tonopah Convention Center
2:30 p.m. – The 9th annual “Walk the Rock” cancer benefit walk begins at Mizpah Hotel
7 p.m. – Live music by the Peavine Pickers, Mizpah Hotel Lobby
6 p.m. (gates open) 7:30 p.m. (racing starts) – Central Nevada Racing Association stock car racing, Tonopah Speedway, Hwy. 6
Sunday, May 26
8 a.m. to 11 a.m. – Boy Scout pancake breakfast, Tonopah Elks Lodge
10 a.m. – Jim Butler Days annual junior mining events, Tonopah Mining Park
2 p.m. – Nevada Pro-Am Arm Wrestling Championship, Tonopah Convention Center
7 p.m. – Beer Pong Tournament, Club House Saloon, Main Street, Tonopah
Monday, May 27
Tonopah VFW Post 1103, Memorial Day ceremonies, Tonopah 10 a.m. Goldfield, 12 Noon.
American Legion Post 18, Memorial Day ceremonies, Kingston, 9 a.m., Round Mountain, 10:30 a.m., Belmont, 12 noon, Manhattan, 1 p.m. a barbeque will follow the Manhattan ceremonies
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