Victorian Square is the city’s jewel when it comes to hosting special events, and 43 major event days were held in that location this year, up from 30 in 2010.
Hot August Nights: More than a 130,000 people attended the 25th anniversary of the Hot August Nights classic car rally in Victorian Square over the course of the five-day event. The city broke even on this event.
Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off: The biggest event in Victorian Square this year – and every year, for that matter – was the Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off, held over six days during the Labor Day weekend. An estimated 480,000 people enjoyed the finest ribs in the nation during the event and the city just about broke even.
Street Vibrations spring and fall rallies: About 13,000 people attended this year’s Street Vibrations spring motorcycle rally, while just 7,500 attended the fall rally, which shut down early after a Hells Angels motorcycle gang boss was shot dead inside John Ascuaga’s Nugget casino. The city actually saw a small revenue from the event, but this figure does not include an estimated $100,000 or more in costs associated with the police investigation and subsequent state-of-emergency declared in Sparks following the deadly shooting.
Arts in Bloom: About 3,000 people attended this year’s Arts in Bloom festival held in May, a smaller turnout than in years past because of poor weather. This year marked the first time the event was held in Victorian Square. The move from Sparks Marina saved the city about $10,000, according to parks director Tracy Domingues.
Farmers Market: The Hometowne Farmers Market was scaled back this year and moved to the Victorian Square plaza. About 5,000 people attended the event over six weeks and the city is currently in the hole about $10,000. But Domingues said she expects to recoup costs next year because the event is split between two fiscal year cycles.
Thursdays on the Square: In response to the Farmers Market shifting away from the bar and restaurants on Victorian Avenue, merchants this year decided to host their own corresponding event. They reported larger crowds in their establishments during the Thursday night events, but many are hoping to learn from the experience and revamp the event next year.
Star Spangled Sparks: Another mega-event held in Victorian Square each year is the Star Spangled Sparks Fourth of July fireworks spectacular. About 50,000 people packed Victorian Square and the city broke even on the event.
Hometowne Christmas Parade and Tree Lighting: The 2010 version of the Christmas parade and tree lighting saw the city lose more than $50,000. They are hoping to mitigate this cost somewhat this year with Inuit as a major sponsor. However, “I’ve never seen (the event) recover cost,” Domingues said.
In all, the city spent less than $350,000 producing special events over the last year, down from about $700,000 in 2006. Moreover, when revenue is calculated, the city only lost about $65,000 on Victorian Square events this year, which also is down sharply from just a few years ago. For example, the city was out more than $400,000 in 2002, when it produced fewer events than it does now.
New for 2012: Four new potential additions to the special events calendar are in the works, Domingues said.
The Upstate Watercraft Promotions Tour is set to host a jet-ski racing and beach volleyball event at the Sparks Marina in late June.
The Expedition Man Endurance Festival, a triathlon that begins at Zephyr Cove at Lake Tahoe and makes it way to the Sparks Marina, is set for Aug. 25.
A brew fest is tentatively set for September or October 2012 in Victorian Square. Finally, a half-marathon is in the works for December 2012.