Fall Fest brings fun to Gardnerville

Members of e. Clampus Vitus with their entry in last year's Coffin Races at Heritage Park.

Members of e. Clampus Vitus with their entry in last year's Coffin Races at Heritage Park.
Photo by Kurt Hildebrand.

Here we are already in the first week of autumn, and the arrival of spooky season is just around the corner. Main Street Gardnerville is gearing up to celebrate the change of season with their annual Fall Festival and Coffin Races next weekend.

The fun takes place 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Oct. 7 at Heritage Park, 1447 Courthouse St. in Gardnerville. This event is free and open to the public.

Touted as offering “something for everyone in the family,” attendees will enjoy live music by Monique DeHaviland of Moxy Ruckus along with performances by All About Dance, Dance Workshop, and Northwest Martial Arts students throughout the day; scarecrow making sponsored by East Fork Gallery; haunted hayrides; local artists and vendor booths; face painting, bounce houses and a petting zoo for the kids; a Vitalant blood drive; many food offerings, and the ever-popular coffin races.

In her recent monthly newsletter, MSG Program Director Jen Nalder shared a brief history of the coffin races, which are now in their eighth year.

Nalder explains Slaughterhouse Lane is the aptly named road that once led to the local facility that harvested and processed livestock for ranchers and game for hunters. She further shared that until the 1990s, Heritage Park was known as Gardnerville Park; it served as Little League baseball fields prior to the construction of Lampe Park and hosted the girls’ softball Bobby Sox teams until Stodick Park was completed.

In 2015, MSG volunteer Shannon Hickey was inspired after seeing the Emma Crawford Coffin Race in Colorado, which is now in its 28th year. Hickey brought the idea of hosting a coffin race on Slaughterhouse Lane to MSG and the rest, said Nalder, is history.  

Fourteen coffins competed during the inaugural year, including “Bare Bones,” the first MSG/Town of Gardnerville coffin concept built by Geoff LaCost, Superintendent of Public Works. Since that time, coffin builds have come in all shapes and sizes including ballet shoes, pirate ships, spinning suspended coffins, and a SWAT coffin built by Joe Duffy from the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office.

Two teams have participated in the event every year since that inaugural 2015 coffin race: Stor-All’s “Black Betty” and the ECV Clampers.

There’s still time to register a team for the coffin races; signups close at 5 p.m. Oct. 2. Visit mainstreetgardnerville.org/annual-events/sponsorships-registrations/ for team signups and registration forms for sponsors and vendors.

On race day, registration opens at 9 a.m. followed by a parade of participants at 9:45 and racing from 10 a.m. - noon. Awards will be distributed at 12:30 p.m.

Nalder said, “I feel by far the best part of this event each year is to see all the teams’ creative concepts for not only their builds, but also their team themes and entrances in the parade of coffins. It’s more than just being the fastest on the footrace, you have to have the crowd behind you, and the opening parade is where you get your fan favorites that cheer you to victory, and of course votes for best costume, overall fan favorite, and overall fastest. If you have never attended, you need to add this to your Main Street to-do bucket list and thank us later.”

Visit mainstreetgardner

ville.org for additional information about this and other upcoming events. To receive the MSG newsletter in your email inbox, click the “subscribe” button at the top of the page and add your email address.

Costume Patch at Food Closet

Carson Valley Community Food Closet and Family Support Council have teamed up to offer a Costume Patch on Oct. 19 at the food closet, 1251 Waterloo Lane in Gardnerville, from 2-5 p.m. The event includes free costumes for children ages 0-15, pumpkins, and fall treats, all while supplies last.

All children must be accompanied by an adult.

The food closet is accepting donations of new and gently used costumes now through Oct. 13 at their facility on Waterloo Lane. Financial donations will be used to purchase pumpkins, goodies, and decorations.

As they also prepare for the busy holiday season, CVCFC welcomes monetary and food donations to help provide special dinner giveaways. Donation hours are 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday and donations are made on the left side of the building near the garage door; pull around and a volunteer will be available to help.

Call CVCFC at 775-782-3711 with any questions or for more information.

Amy Roby can be reached at ranchosroundup@hotmail.com.


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