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Snowshoe Thompson Festival offers lots of fun for kids and families

by Liz Paul

Parents and youngsters will find something to interest or amuse them at the 12th annual Snowshoe Thompson Festival in Genoa next weekend.

The events will be held June 26 and 27 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Mormon Station State Park and are sponsored by the Carson Valley Historical Society. The festival honors John A. “Snowshoe” Thompson, the legendary mailman of the Sierra.

Opening ceremonies will begin at 10 a.m. at the stockade. Vice President Lois Storke, representing the Carson Valley Historical Society, will welcome the public. The Douglas County Explorer Scouts will raise the American and Norwegian flags, and Eileen Bianchi will sing the national anthems.

Organizers for this year’s festival have put together a diverse program for all ages. The Nevada Gunfighters and Virginia City Gunslingers will set up an expanded Western town faade and present Nevada gunfighter skits throughout the weekend. They will also offer a quick-draw booth to test your skill and give an informative demonstration of gun safety.

In addition, members from the Great Basin Fur Trappers Guild will demonstrate axe throwing. Mountain Men Traders will be represented by Hofmann Horn, who will demonstrate black powder loading and Curly Bill with Cheyanna Trades. Chris Drew with West Island Coffee and Spice Co. will do living history presentations all weekend. Also specializing in Nevada history are Steve and Anne Jeannette Robinson, who will have an encampment in the stockade.

Truckee Carriage and Coach will provide hay wagon rides from Mormon Station Park to the Genoa Cemetery and back all weekend. On the way, guide Billie Jean Rightmire, a fifth generation Nevadan, will give a brief history of Genoa, point out places of interest and direct visitors to Snowshoe Thompson’s grave. Rides will be $5 per person.

An arts and crafts fair, with a special section for antiques and collectibles, will be featured both days. Booths will offer Indian and Western-style wall hangings, ceramics, pottery, woodcrafts, birdhouses, Celtic music, silk and dried flowers, stained glass, jewelry, porcelain dolls, stoneware, gourmet preserves and many other items.

The society will also hold a raffle. Tickets can be purchased at the Genoa Courthouse Museum and the Carson Valley Museum and Cultural Center in Gardnerville. Tickets will also be available at the festival. Several local businesses have donated some great prizes, such as dinner for two at Inn Cognito, prints from Mill Creek Gallery and Westbrook Corner, Genoa, Beanie Babies from Especially for You, free-dried arrangement from Aladdin Flowers and Gifts, ceiling fan from T-Electric, plush toys and banks from Hey Diddle Diddle, just to name a few – with more to be announced at the festival. Tickets are $1 each or six for $5. Winners need not be present to win.

Games for children and adults will be held on Saturday and Sunday afternoon, 1-3 p.m. Sack races and cow pie throw for adults and children (gloves will be available), relay race for children under 14 years, ring toss for very young children and a few other events. Children may register both days for the competitions. Prizes will be given.

Saturday’s special ethnic food will be Basque chorizo sandwiches, sodas and wine served by the Basque Club of Carson Valley. Each year, the Daughters of Norway tempt everyone to outstanding baked good. The historical society will sell hot dogs and ice cream. Sunday’s special ethnic food event will be a German beer garden complete with bratwurst, homemade German potato salad and sauerkraut, beer and soda.

No festival is complete without entertainment. Music and special performances will be provided all weekend. On Saturday, at 11:30 a.m., the group “Relaxed Fit” will perform many musical favorites. On Sunday, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Willie Huf will play German beer drinking songs on his accordion. Professional guitarists Leland Smith and Ray Craft will be on stage in the gazebo area of the park.

All proceeds for the festival will benefit the Carson Valley Historical Society.