A spaghetti feed fundraiser was held at Casale’s Halfway Club to benefit the Nevada Territory Wild West Fair, which the state fair was renamed to last year. With 100 percent of the proceeds from each $6 plate going to the fair, Executive Director Rich Crombie welcomed and thanked patrons for coming and talked about the uphill climb the event faces.
“We’re way short of money and have a short time to get it,” Crombie said.
According to the latest numbers on the fair’s website, http://wildwestfair.com, about $260,000 is needed in the next two weeks to pay about $204,000 of debt from the 2010 fair and have $80,000 to prepare for this year’s festivities. So far, only about $24,000 has been raised, according to the site.
“If we don’t, the fair is over after 136 years, which is sad,” Crombie said.
About one year ago, Crombie announced the state fair, held at the Reno Livestock Events Center, would be taking on a historical theme and changing its name. Incorporated with the traditional carnival attractions, food vendors, livestock and crafts would be replica mining camps, war reenactments, Native American and Mexican villages and other displays of Nevada’s heritage. The change was meant to both draw renewed interest and give the fair more of an identity beyond “just cotton candy and rides,” Crombie said.
The new name and look helped some, Crombie continued, but not enough. With years of prior debt, a recession and bad weather reducing the crowds by about 20,000 attendees, the 2010 fair ran up a massive debt. This year, with the economy still struggling, corporate sponsorships and donations are still down. The fair receives no public funds, Crombie said.
If the fair does not raise enough money soon, its absence will hurt participants such as 14-year-old Allyson Albee from Reno. For several generations, the Albee family has been raising animals, according to Allyson’s father, Bill, and now Allyson is preparing for her first 4-H competition. She hopes to enter her Peruvian horse Midnight in judging this year, and possibly a pig, too.
“The fair is the best part of the year,” Allyson said.
Not only is the fair enjoyable, her father added, it enables young people to continue raising animals year after year. Since animals are often sold at the fair, the proceeds fund the next year’s livestock and so on, he said.
To do their part to help the fair, five members of the Albee family came to Casale’s for spaghetti on Monday afternoon. One table over, performer Larry Elliott, who bills himself as “the music man,” entertained another set of patrons. Elliott was playing his banjo while decked out in boots, a cowboy hat and leather vest. A knapsack dangled from his belt holding a washboard and other Western-style percussion instruments for his audience to use. Elliott said he has performed at fairs across the country, including in Nevada, trying to keep a dying musical art form alive. When people see and hear him play, they open up like a flower, he said.
“This is the only laptop from the 1870s,” he said, pointing to his banjo.
To find out about upcoming fundraisers for the Nevada Territory Wild West Fair or to donate directly, visit http://wildwestfair.com.