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Carson Valley Days honors Basque heritage

by Linda Hiller

It might seem like a long way off, but members of the Active 20-30 Club International are already deep into the planning of Carson Valley Days, scheduled for the second weekend in June.

“We usually try to start around six months ahead of time,” said member Richard Kudrna. “It’s a lot of work getting the rodeo organized and the park vendors lined up. Plus, we have to contact the community for help, come up with a theme and get the Carson Valley Days parade scheduled.”

This year’s theme, a “Tribute to the Basque,” is one that 20-30 Club members hope the Carson Valley community can sink their teeth into.

Coming from the Pyrenees Mountain area between Spain and France, Basque sheep herders were among the first European settlers in the Carson Valley during the last century.

“We are trying to get some of the Basque dancers and we hope that people decorating their floats can come up with some good ideas using the Basque theme,” Kudrna said.

– Hot raffle item. Kudrna, 30, said one of the popular Carson Valley Days events, the big ticket raffle, will offer a very popular all terrain vehicle for the grand prize. Raffle tickets are available now, so call Kudrna, this year’s raffle chairman, at 782-5933.

“We’ll be raffling a Honda 400EX quad, which is one of the hottest quads out there,” he said. “It retails for $5,300, and we’ll sell 500 tickets at $20 per ticket, so the odds are pretty good.”

– 20-30 history. The Active 20-30 Club was started in 1921 in Sacramento, Calif., when young men there wanting to join the Rotary Club were told they were too young. Thwarted, they founded their own club, specifically intended to include men in their 20s and 30s – the 20-30 Club – according to Nick Grant, 29, club sergeant-at-arms and national president-elect.

The Carson Valley chartered its first chapter in 1931 and there are now 46 chapters of the Active 20-30 Club worldwide. Former members include longtime Nevada Sen. Lawrence Jacobsen and many of the prominent area ranchers and farmers.

– Jail remodel winding up. Preceding Carson Valley Days by a month or two will be another important commemoration, Kudrna said. After seven years, the remodel of the old jail building, located in Gardnerville behind the French Bar, is about one month away from completion.

Through the help of the Town of Gardnerville, Jackson Drywall, Fuller O’Brien paint company, general contractor Jeff Pisciotta, Bing Materials, Carson Valley Heating (and anyone they forgot), the two-story jail building has been painstakingly restored by 20-30 Club members.

An open house to show it off to the community is tentatively planned for May, a month before Carson Valley Days.

– Celebration. Carson Valley Days, originally begun in 1910 as a way to show off Valley agricultural bounty, is scheduled for June 9, 10 and 11.

Dan Hochgurtel, 25, the Active 20-30 Club’s current president, said organizing the celebration is the main fund-raiser for the 32-member organization. Monies from the club are always earmarked for helping Valley youth, he said.

The Active 20-30 Club meets every Wednesday at 7 p.m., upstairs in the jail building. Newcomers are always welcome. There is a newly-formed women’s 20-30 Club.

For more information on either one, call Hochgurtel at 783-1109 or the Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce, 782-8144, and don’t forget, Carson Valley Days is only four months away.