There was only one thing missing from last year’s widely successful Fallon Cantaloupe Festival — a classic more than two decades in the making, diving in the mud.
The Coed Mud Volleyball Tournament put on by the Churchill County Parks and Recreation Department returns in tandem with the Cantaloupe Festival after its hiatus last year to the mud pits of the Churchill County Fairgrounds. The tournament runs Sept. 3-4 with the deadline for teams of six to register by noon on Sept. 2.
Recreation supervisor Danny Gleich for said he was glad to see an event that has run for more than 20 years in conjunction with the festival return.
“It’s never been a concrete part of the festival itself, kind of one of those additional activities which has gone on with it,” Gleich said. “But we work together as a team to make sure it’s a nice additional option for entertainment. Festival goers can watch and enjoy the competition and laughter which goes along with diving in a giant mud pit after a volleyball.”
The bracket-style tournament hosts a 24-team cap and co-ed teams, though, teams are required to have an even number between gender (ex. three men requires three women on a team). Teams are guaranteed three matches, made up of two regular tournament style face-offs and a third match in the consolation bracket. The price of registration per team is $160 which includes a guaranteed event shirt if registered by Aug, 26. The tournament also features cash prizes and trophies for first, second and third places as well as a trophy for the winner of the consolation bracket.
The difficulty which resulted in last year’s tournament being cancelled was the rare lack of teams to meet the minimum requirement for the tournament, Gleich said, adding that the tournament has, though, suffered player decreases before this one.
“Its grown through peaks and valleys,” he said, “the max being 24 teams, some years are more some years are less. It’s gone through a little bit of a decline over the past few years just with normal events. Generally there is a younger population, which moves in as the older population begins to move and the younger population would come in and fill those spots.
“We haven’t seen as much support for the mud volleyball tournament so our numbers have gone from the 20-24 teams to close to 12-16 teams over the last few years. Its lost a bit of its luster but we’re hoping to keep the tournament going and grow it back to its glory days of 24 teams.”
Though the steady decline contributed to last year’s cancellation, another part of last year’s absence was confusion regarding some of the new policies of the Cantaloupe Festival when it was taken over by the Fallon Cantaloupe Festival Association, namely, the policy involving alcohol which the new association tried to limit to make the festival more family friendly.
“They took on a lot last year trying to make the event better and one of the things they were trying to do was to make it a bit more family friendly and not the drunk fest it had become a couple times,” Gleich said. “So they had some policies regarding the alcohol trying to enforce them throughout the whole area which would include the pits. One of the things the teams like is to be able to bring a cooler of Bud Light and to be able to sit there and drink a beer, so some of the teams were a little apprehensive about that.
“Obviously when you’re playing in a giant mud pit one of the things you might want is to have an adult beverage to offset the heat, and it wasn’t until the 11th hour we came to terms and it was just too late.”
Through the learning curve, Gleich said this year there is a better understanding with his department and the association to make things work similar to 2014 when everything ran smoothly, sure to be a strong year for both sides.
“What we normally see is a lot of folks who are just out of high school generally any age,” Gleich said on the usual competitors. “We’ve had folks playing in it for years now who are probably in their early 50’s who still come and play every year and enjoy it. They really revel in the ability to just play one of the most random volleyball games of their life.”
The Parks and Rec department has begun receiving applications from teams and, though, it has yet to reach the minimum requirement,
“It makes for a lot of fun during the weekend when we’re able to get the tournament up and going,” he said. “We expect not only to be able to host but for our numbers to be much stronger this year.