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Sheep Dip: More than just a roast
by Garrett Valenzuela
Jan 17, 2013 | 2790 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune photo by Garrett Valenzuela -- Performers in the upcoming 49th annual Sheep Dip Show run through a dress rehearsal Wednesday evening inside the Celebrity Showroom at The Nugget. The show happens at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and the proceeds benefits three local charities.
Tribune photo by Garrett Valenzuela -- Performers in the upcoming 49th annual Sheep Dip Show run through a dress rehearsal Wednesday evening inside the Celebrity Showroom at The Nugget. The show happens at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and the proceeds benefits three local charities.
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SPARKS -- In the last 48 years the cities of Sparks and Reno and the northern Nevada region have come to terms with their glaring headlines throughout the year, catching some flak come January.

In the spirit of Basque heritage where sheep were dipped into a vat to cleanse their bodies, the Sheep Dip Show producers dunk the town during a two-night event to give them a fresh start for the new year.

Ron Smith has participated in every Sheep Dip Show since its inception and said he -- and the town -- have come to love the fun-natured satire bringing light to many highly debated topics in the region.

“The vat of sheep dip in which we dip our political newsmakers is a vat of satire to cleanse them of all they have done and send them away afterwards to do it all over again,” Smith said Wednesday in a preliminary interview to the show.

Smith said the show’s satirical blows to the gut of political figures, and the follies happening throughout 2012, have gained momentum each year the show is held due to the cooperation between the Sheep Dip Show producers and the newsmakers. He said inviting many of the political figures and newscasters onstage to participate in skits and performances helps bring even more cooperation to the show.

“We are kind of the conscience of those who make news and, again, we try to do it without hurting anybody and in a satirical vein point out the foibles of what they do,” Smith said. “In doing it for so many years we have formed relationships with our politicians and our media who expect in January we are going to put the show on.”

Smith said Gov. Brian Sandoval is not only expected to be in attendance during Friday’s show, but he is carrying on the tradition of creating the opening video of the show. A cast and crew of more than 100 people provide a mixture of delving into Harvey Whittemore’s past, the food truck takeover and a tribute to late Sen. Bill Raggio will be accompanied by a variety of musical numbers and sketches.

“It’s a logistical nightmare in some ways because you are dealing with so many different types of people who don’t normally do this in their professional lives, but you are going to get a show with people who act like they know what they’re doing,” Smith said. “It is a pretty professional show and it has a lot of music and well-produced videos to make for a great night.”

Smith said he remembers when the show first began bringing some laughter to the new year in the 1960s. The city looked much different. Back then, according to Smith, January was not known as a month where events and shows were going on. He acknowledged that much has changed.

“Traditionally, back in the ‘60s when this started, January was a really slow time,” Smith said. “I-80 wasn’t open all the way to Reno so tourism and casino-based events were not really happening. Our show was a highlight for locals and over time things have changed and there is a lot going on in January.”

The 49th annual Sheep Dip Show begins at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday night inside the Celebrity Showroom at John Ascuaga’s Nugget in Sparks. Tickets cost $35 dollars and proceeds from the show are going to three local charities this year. The Children’s Cabinet, For Kids Foundation and Evelyn Mount Community Outreach will benefit from this year’s event. To date, the show has donated more than $400,000 to local charities and scholarships during its 40-plus years of production.
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