Thousands cram into tiny Genoa for Candy Dance

Tens of thousands walked the streets and parks of Genoa for the 83rd-annual Candy Dance festival on Saturday.

Moms carried newly-bought craft baskets, kids chomped on snow cones in the sun and dads pushed strollers through mazes of vendors' booths.

It was unclear just how many had shown up for the event, which continues today.

"Don't know --Eit's only the first day," said event organizer and town manager Paul Williamson.

There were exactly 458 vendors in town, though, according to vendor coordinator Pat Copier.

"They bring T-shirts, candy, jellies and jams, clothing, decorated windows --Elots of odds and ends," she said.

The Candy Dance began in 1919 as a fund raiser for the town's first street lamps. It evolved into a massive craft fair in the 1970s.

"I've been to 26 of these things," said Steve Merrill of Gardnerville.

He remembered the days before pastures were used for parking.

"Back then you couldn't get in here," he said. "That's what made it really big was when they started using the cow pastures for parking." Merrill and some friends were staying cool inside the Genoa Bar. His buddy Jim Collins, a Carson Valley carpenter, brought his own beer cozy.

"This is just a fun time for socializing and seeing old friends," he said.

The candy that gave the annual event its name was offered for sale in the stockade of the Mormon Station State Park.

Volunteer Lynne Bowersock said locals made 5,000 pounds over six weeks.

"At first we said, 'We are not doing this next year,'" she said. "But then as we loaded the truck we said, 'Next year we'll do it like this,' so yeah, it's fun."

Park Rangers Lynne Frost and Donna Long watched the crowds mill around a park usually home to only deer.

"We're watching people trample it," said Frost.

"Yeah, we cry every Monday when we come in and see it but it all grows back," said Long.

Vendor Sheri Overstreet of Fresno was selling hand made signs. Karen Newhoff of Sonora bought one reading "The dog and his house cleaning staff live here."

"It's great," she said. "We always come this weekend for this and the dog show at Fuji Park."

Hawking their cotton candy and drinks were students from Mr. Porter's fifth grade class at Jack's Valley Elementary School.

With blue lips Jenna Weisenthal, 11, described how the funds raised from the soda and water sales will go to Genoa while funds raised from the cotton candy sales will go to their student body. She had help from Kyle Cranney, Jori Hart, twins Jackie and Alexa Rosenburg, and Jackie Harper -- all 10.

The 300 tickets for Saturday's dance were sold out by midday, said Copier, the vendor coordinator. The craft fair continues today.

"Sunday is actually a good day to come because all the booths are replenished and there's more parking," said Williamson.

The fair and dance provide between about $70,000 for Genoa's annual budget.

IF YOU GO

What: 83rd annual Candy Dance Arts and Craft Faire

When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today

Where: Genoa

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