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Genoa Candy Dance has colorful history

Staff reports

The Genoa Candy Dance has been a traditional event for generations of people in Northern Nevada.

The party has had various guises, from a dance where free candy was passed among the dancers followed by a midnight supper (circa the 1920s) to the establishment of the now-famous two-day Arts and Crafts Faire just about 25 years ago.

But the Candy Dance has always been a fund-raiser for the town.

Lillian Finnegan, daughter of Judge Daniel Webster Virgin of the Pink House, attended a dance where candy was given away and thought the idea was a good one. With plenty of help from the women of the town, she established the first Genoa Candy Dance in 1919.

With funds raised from the first dances, Genoa was able to purchase street lights and in later years pay the electric bill.

The delicious buffet dinner featuring homemade desserts and the chance to dance most the night way drew people from all over.

The Candy Dance soon became one of the biggest social events in the Valley.

Volunteers from the town and outlying areas help make the event a success. For weeks ahead of time, volunteers make candy, some using recipes passed down from the earliest candymakers. They set up and clean up and serve dinner and sell tickets.

The dance is held in the Genoa Town Hall, built in the 1886 and given to the town in 1941 by the Hellwinkel family. Over the years, funds raised at the dance have helped refurbish the 120-year-old hall.

Though crowds of people head to Genoa and roads become clogged, there’s a good-natured, happy feeling about Candy Dance festivities.

It’s almost as if people are saying goodbye to summer in one last, big celebration before the weather turns cold.