With clowns clowning, faces being painted and dunk tank victims plunging into icy water, the Children's Museum of Northern Nevada held its fourth, and most successful, Kids Karnival on Saturday.
Hundreds of children navigated the maze of games and displays on Ann Street throughout the day, testing their carnival-game skills and learning that learning can be fun with exhibitions from dinosaur bones to mineral arrays.
While organized as a fund-raiser for the museum, the event also works to draw in new customers. People who may have never come to the museum otherwise, show up for the carnival, where kids may acquire an affinity for the history, science and arts provided there every day.
"We've gotten some people in from Fallon, Reno, Sparks and even people from Carson City who haven't been here before," said Mary Ann Weiss, the museum gift shop and admissions manager. "We got some new memberships, too."
Along with time-honored favorites at the five-hour carnival, such as face painting and the arts and crafts booth, there were several new exhibits at this year's event. The W.M. Keck Museum from the University of Nevada, Reno set up a match-the-mineral booth where youngsters could learn to recognize different hard minerals.
The Nevada State Railroad Museum pitched into the effort as well, giving rides along a stretch of portable rail on an old handcart - the way maintenance men rode the rails up into the early 20th century.
Railroad workers were generally assigned a five-mile stretch of track to repair and maintain, said railroad museum volunteer John Williams. Their transportation was the handcart, a flat wooden surface on train wheels with a lever sticking out of the center. The carts were powered by the rider's muscle.
By the early 1900s, the manual propulsion system had been replaced by a motor. Soon after, cars or trucks called high-railers were fitted with rail-riding wheels, putting an end to the open cart of the past.
Williams was just one of 97 volunteers who had signed in by 1 p.m.
Kids Karnival volunteers, however, credited organizer Penny Holbrook with the major work pulling all the exhibits together. Holbrook has been the force behind the event since its inception in 2001. She said part of the funds raised at the carnival will go toward a new exhibit at the museum on South Carson and Ann streets. The rest will go to the museum's operating budget.
n Contact reporter Cory McConnell at email@example.com or 881-1217.