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Candy-making sessions begin in Genoa

Staff reports

The candy-making sessions that precede Genoa’s famous Candy Dance in late September began last evening, with Martha Williams and Kasi Rapoport opening up the town kitchen for volunteers to make almond rocca.

This whole week will be devoted to almond rocca.

Each week will concentrate on a different candy. Among the varieties to be made are seven old favorites – fudge, fudge with nuts, almond rocca, peanut brittle, divinity, haystacks and turtles. Carolyn White will supervise Genoa teens and children in making suckers to sell at the event. Contact her at 782-2796 beginning the first of September.

Williams and Laurie Hickey are co-chairing the important committee and welcome all volunteers whether experienced or beginning candy-makers. They are shooting for thousands of pounds of candy to be sold at the Candy Dance Arts and Crafts Faire Sept. 25 and 26. Volunteers may work days or evenings, as they choose.

Working with volunteers will be Betty Bourne, who has been making candy since 1983 and has long been famous for the divinity she made with Virginia Henry, who has retired this year.

The volunteers include three Carson Valley natives – Hickey, Janice Hansen and Carol Aldax. Hansen’s mother and grandmother both made candy in past years, as did Hickey’s mother and grandmother. Both live on family ranches along Foothill Road. In contrast are newcomers who have been in the Valley only a few years.

Candy has only been made for sale for about 40 years or so, although the Candy Dance itself wa started in 1919.

That year, Lillian Finnegan, daughter of Judge Daniel Webster Virgin and Mary Raycraft Virgin, had returned from a river cruise that featured a dance where pursers passed among the dancers offering pieces of candy from trays. She hit on the idea of having a Candy Dance in Genoa to raise funds to install electric lights in the town and managed to persuade a number of women in the town to help organize such an event. Girls in starched caps and aprons passed among the dancers under the direction and the sharp eye of the late Ione Hawkins Fettic.

In the 1960 and 1970s, Fettic and the late Charlotte Syll Juchtzer sold candy from behind a bar in the Town Hall. It was sold only to purchasers of dance tickets.

Until the 1940s when it was torn down for firewood, the old Raycraft Hotel served as the site of the midnight supper which followed a dance in the Raycraft Dance Hall, which was sold to the town in 1941 and became the Genoa Town Hall. Then, the complimentary buffet dinner was served in the Masonic Hall until 1970, when it was moved to the fire house truck bay.

In about 1976, the Arts and Crafts Faire was started at Sierra Shadows Guest Ranch and moved the following year to Mormon Station State Park. By 1987, the Genoa Town Park was added to the area for vendor booths. And, today there are few on private property, although this year’s event will have fewer booths to reduce congestion and promote a more festive atmosphere.

The dinner is in the competent hands of White and Bourne, and the dance will feature Brian Farnon and The Lake Tahoe Dance Band.

Information is available from the Genoa town office, 782-8696.