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Fantasies in Chocolate celebrates 30th year with black-tie, costumed event

Indulge in your dark side… Dress in your finest villainous black-tie wardrobe, and head to the 30th annual Fantasies in Chocolate, wine tasting and chocolate sampling fundraiser, benefiting the RGJ Foundation on Saturday, Oct. 25. This year’s black-tie, costumed event includes a villainous theme incorporating the spooky season and is being held at Grand Sierra Resort and Casino, in the Summit Pavilion.

10557446_574380852685455_2472632868531929463_nSample chocolate and wine, and give back to one of your favorite local entities, such as High Sierra Industries, Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum and Reno Philharmonic.

The evening begins with a VIP portion, including early access, reserved table seating for the evening, a sit-down dinner prepared by Grand Sierra, a live band, champagne and wine. For general admission attendees, the evening includes tastings of chocolate confections, creations and savory dishes presented by some of the region’s top chefs and paired with champagne, wine, beer and spirits. Entertainment includes a live DJ, dance floor, silent auction and more.

Vendors to look for at this year’s event, include: 1864 Tavern, Atlantis Casino Resort Spa, Batch Cupcakery, Cherry Bomb Catering, Delicious Designs, Dorinda’s Chocolates, Dough Catering, Dreamer’s Coffeehouse, Edible Arrangements, Famous Dave’s, Grand Sierra Resort and Casino, Great Basin Brewery, Kimmie Candy, Mari & Chuy’s Mexican Kitchen, Men Wielding Fire, My Scandinavia, Pretty in Pink Macaron, Reef Sushi, Reno Local Food Group, Rounds Bakery, Scheels, Southern Wine & Spirits, Stoneyhead Brewery, The Chocolate Bar, Tahoe Blue Vodka, Tournant Pop-Up Restaurant and Whole Foods Market.

General admission tickets cost $70 in advance or $80 at the door. VIP single tickets cost $175 or a VIP table of 10 costs $1,500. All VIP tickets must be purchased in advance. Additionally, LEX Nightclub, inside Grand Sierra, is throwing an after party with a discounted entry fee of $15, if you purchase in advance. All Fantasies in Chocolate tickets can be purchased at www.fantasiesinchocolate.com.

Generous sponsors of Fantasies in Chocolate 2014, include: Grand Sierra Resort and Casino, Southern Wine & Spirits, Jaguar Land Rover Reno, Galaxy Theaters, Reno Dodge, Creative Coverings and Jones West Ford.

International Festival of Magic is looking to casts a spell on Reno

Spellbinders, the International Festival of Magic, comes to Reno for its inaugural event, Oct. 14—18, 2014, with unbelievable, mind-boggling feats of prestidigitation taking place all over town – from Washoe County Libraries to local coffee shops to the University of Nevada, Reno and the Pioneer Center. The public is invited to marvel at the talents of world champion magicians free of charge.

From the very biggest stage illusions to intimate close-up miracles, and everything in between, Spellbinders has an unbelievable line-up of award-winning magicians bringing recognition to the Biggest Little City. The lineup includes:

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Washoe County Libraries | Oct. 14th—17th  4 p.m. and 5 p.m.

Featuring: Lennart Green, Bob Sheets, Shoot Ogawa, and John Carney.

Locations: Northwest Reno Library, Spanish Springs Library (no Friday show), Sparks Library, and South Valleys Library.

University of Nevada, Reno | Oct.16th  5 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Featuring: Dana Daniels’ No Show.

Location: Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center (Wells Fargo Auditorium).

University of Nevada, Reno | Oct. 17th   5 p.m.

Featuring: Dana Daniels’ No Show.

Location: Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center (Wells Fargo Auditorium).

Local Coffee Houses  | Oct.15th—17th  9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Featuring: Gregory Wilson’s Coffee House Conjuring

Locations: The Jungle, Swill and more to be announced.

Pioneer Center | October 18th  2 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Featuring: The Gala Show with international stars of magic Joaquin Ayala, Rocco, Dan Birch, Tina Lenert, Les Arnold & Dazzle, Michael Goudeau, The Flying Cavettis, and Larry Wilson.

Location: Pioneer Center. Tickets are available from any Washoe County Library, for free.

For a full schedule of events and information, visit www.SpellbindersReno.com

Ghostly Halloween Fun (Ages 21+)

October is full of changing leaves, pumpkin spice lattes, and choosing to get totally spooked all month long. The Reno area offers plenty of adult-oriented events this October to get you in the Halloween spirit and send chills up your spine all month long. So pull out your costumes and get ready for a spook-tacular time!

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On October 11 Virginia City is hosting Redrun II- a Zombie Sequel. This six-mile race course consists of six dead zones and six obstacles, along with “creatures hunting for your blood” as you race around cemeteries, mining bunkers, and more throughout one of the oldest living ghost towns in the country. Virginia City is one of the most visited towns by ghost hunters and researchers of the supernatural, and their professional opinions all agree on one thing: its haunted! Are you brave enough to make the dash through some of the most haunted locations in the world? Check out www.redrunvc.com to view race details, registration information, and details about all six course dead zones. Good luck!

Reno’s annual Zombie Crawl is a great excuse to celebrate Halloween a week early. Starting at 8PM on October 25 at various bars throughout Reno, zombies of all shapes and sizes gather under the moon with a common goal: a scary-good time. Crawlers are encouraged to rise from their graves and visit over 50 bars with the rest of Reno’s undead! The night is full of specials, such as $3 drinks and beers at every bar and no cover charge at any of our clubs, as well as hotel discounts for those who crawled a little too hard. Before the crawl, join your fellow zombies for a flash-mob style dance to Michael Jackson’s Thriller under the Reno Arch. To participate, purchase a Zombie Crawl cup from a few selected shops around town and bring it with you! Check out the Crawl website for a list of participating bars, Halloween discounts, and other information (http://renozombiecrawl.com).

For more scary fun throughout the month of October, the Eldorado is hosting six different Halloween-themed parties in four different venues over four nights. The celebration starts on Saturday, October 25 with the Zombie Crawl. Participating Eldorado bars include The Brew Brothers, BuBinga Live, Stadium Bar, and Cin Cin Bar & Lounge. These crawl stops include a costume contest, drinks, and music by DJ Dragon. On October 28 The Brew Brothers will host an Industry Halloween party with Blood Club Tuesday. A second costume contest will be held, and DJ Chris English will be keeping the party going all night long. Another costume contest and party will be held at The Brew Brothers October 30 for Student Bloody Thursday. On All Hallows’ Eve, the party really gets going. The Brew Brothers transforms themselves into The Blood Brothers with another costume contest, drinks, and dancing. And to bring the spooky season to a close Skyy High Fridays is hosting a Trick-or-Treat Party at BuBinga with a costume contest, a DJ, and student discounts. The month is full of parties and $6,250 in cash prizes for costume contest winners! It’s sure to be a thrilling time!  Visit www.eldoradoreno.com for more information on all of the Eldorado’s parties and all Halloween events.

Another costume party to consider is the Fantasies in Chocolate’s 30th year celebration on October 25. The event is a wine tasting and chocolate sampling fundraiser, and the event will benefit the RGJ Foundation. General Admission attendees are welcomed to sample wines and chocolates, as well as dine on savory dishes created by some of the top chef’s of the area. The vendors for this year’s event include: Men Wielding Fire, Batch, 1864 Tavern, and many more! Besides great food and delicious drinks, there will be a DJ and dancing, a live auction, and more! For more information  see http://blog.visitrenotahoe.com/fantasies-in-chocolate-celebrates-30th-year-with-black-tie-costumed-event/.

Happy Halloween! Be safe!

Halloween Activities For The Whole Family!

For family-friendly Halloween fun, the Reno area has oodles of options to keep kids safe and entertained!

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The Wilbur D. May Museum in Rancho San Rafael Regional Park is hosting their third Great May Center Pumpkin Walk on Saturday, October 18. This new Reno tradition is a favorite for families and people of all ages, and it draws over one thousand visitors each year. Visitors line up to view hand-carved pumpkins throughout the museum and arboretum, and the May Center will have 500 pumpkins on glowing this year! Kids are encouraged to wear Halloween costumes and trick-or-treat during the walk. Fall refreshments such as hot chocolate and cider will be available to keep you warm throughout the night. Go to www.maycenter.com for prices, times, and more information.

Virginia City, one of the most haunted towns in the country, is offering safe trick-or-treating for kids at shops around town as an opportunity to celebrate both the city’s history and the spooky holiday. Later in the evening, Virginia City’s Halloween parade will coincide with the Nevada Statehood parade, which is celebrating Nevada’s 150th birthday. Parade viewers are encouraged to dress up in costume, and the event is a not-so-spooky alternative to scarier Halloween events going on in the city. For a full list of Virginia City’s Halloween events visit www.visitvirginiacitynv.com/events.

On October 26 visit Pumpkinpalooza at Sparks Victorian Square. Here, families can meet with fortune-tellers, build and race a pumpkin in the Pumpkin Derby, compete in a pumpkin seed spitting contest, and end the day with the official Lighting of the Pumpkins and more! Children are invited to wear costumes and participate in the children’s costume parade. It’s a celebration of all things pumpkin and is a fun way to get kids in the Halloween spirit. See http://www.pumpkinpalooza.org/ for more details.

Scheels is hosting two events for the holiday this year. On October 27, stop by Scheels to decorate your own pumpkin! Kids from the Reno area will be getting crafty at 6:00 that evening, hoping to make the perfect Halloween pumpkin to complete their spooky decorations. On October 31, kids are welcome to participate in a Halloween scavenger hunt throughout the store where they will trick-or-treat and have a fun time. For both Scheels events, kids will receive a free Ferris wheel ride. Scheels encourages you to email events RS@scheels.com if you have any questions.

Reno Street Food and Magic 95.5 is hosting their “Truck or Treat” event at Idlewild Park on October 30. With 25 food trucks and 20 candy stations, this is another fun, safe trick-or-treating option for families. The night will be filled with food, candy, and a children’s costume contest, so don’t miss out! See Reno Street Food’s Facebook page for more information.

To make sure your costume is the best on the block check out Faces 4 Fun face painting at Circus Circus Reno for trick-or-treating and costume parties. The team of artists has extended their hours for the Halloween season, and they all have impressive experience with painting and promise to bring your costume, whether is a zombie or a fairy, to the next level. Visit Circus Circus Reno for more information and scheduling.

Three local farms are opening their doors and sacrificing their corn for family-friendly corn mazes all month long. Corley Ranch, Andelin Family Farm, and Lattin Farms all have corn mazes and fall activities this month to enjoy the fall season! View http://blog.visitrenotahoe.com/corn-mazes for information on these farms and all they have to offer.

Nevada’s Corn Mazes: Fun For The Whole Family!

Corn Maze season is upon us! In honor of Nevada’s 150th Anniversary of Statehood many local farms are transforming their fields of corn into corn mazes. A few farms in the Reno area will host fall games and activities along with their corn mazes, and each farm offers a unique and fun experience.

Lazy P Maze

Lazy P Farm is opening up their doors for a Fall Festival during October to celebrate Nevada’s birthday. The festival will include a Nevada 150 themed corn maze, farm animals, and lessons on farming and growing fall crops. Lazy P is a little far out, located in Winnemucca, NV, but the Sesquicentennial themed festival is well worth the drive!

Lazy P Fall Farm Festival is open during various dates and times in September and October. Family activities include a Nevada 150 themed corn maze, farm animals and lessons on how to grow pumpkins and corn. Lazy P is located in Winnemucca, NV at 8280 Grass Valley Road.  For more information call (775)625-1194 or visit www.lazypfarm.com.

The Corley Ranch in Gardnerville, NV is open every day until October 31. Their property includes a hay maze, a pumpkin patch, pig races, a bounce house, and wagon rides; all sure to create a fun day for the whole family.

For something a little closer to Reno check out Andelin Family Farm, which is open until November 1st. The theme for this year’s corn maze is “Nevada Proud” as a celebration of our state’s big day. Daily activities include pumpkin picking, hay rides, pony rides, and a new game called Farm Scene Investigation. Andelin Farm is located just a quick drive from Reno in Sparks, NV.

Want a history lesson along with your fun? The Nevada Maize Maze at Lattin Farms was home to one of the first corn mazes in Nevada, which was created in 1998. This year they are open through the month of October, and their corn maze is an educational one. Throughout the maze you will find quiz trails that offer information on Nevada’s history. Lattin Farms can be found in Fallon, NV and is sure to be a great time!

For opening times and dates, as well as prices and activities on these three farms visit or call:

www.lazypfarm.com or (775)625-1194

www.corleyranch.com or (775)265-6506

www.andelinfamilyfarm.com or (775)530-8032

lattinfarmsnevada@gmail.com or (775)867-3750

E ‘tempo di festa! It’s time to party!

Ciao Reno!

The Eldorado Great Italian Festival is right around the corner! For 33 years the Eldorado has hosted an authentic celebration of Italian culture, and this year is going to be nothing short of fantastic. The festival typically takes place over Columbus Day weekend, but the Eldorado is getting a head start with a new wine and food event and Italian dinners in the buffet starting October 6. This new addition to the schedule of events allows guests to celebrate all week long.

On October 9 the Eldorado will debut a new Italian wine and food pairing event, Vintage Eldorado. This new event will feature Italian food stations, Italian wines, and Italian beer and spirits to sample and enjoy. The event will also include a silent auction to benefit the Boys & Girls club of Truckee Meadows. Ticket prices include a Riedel stemless “Swirl” wine glass souvenir to use throughout the event. October 11 and 12 are the days when downtown Reno will be transformed into Little Italy. Here guests can take on a grape stomp, taste sauces in the sauce cookers competition, stroll on a wine walk, shop at an Italian farmer’s market, cheer on a kids’ gelato eating contest, get their fix at the Italian buffet, and enjoy life free entertainment the entire weekend.

The fan-favorite sauce cook-off will take place throughout the holiday weekend each afternoon starting at 2p.m. Guests can enjoy different sauces brought from West Coast Italian families, which can be found at the pasta booth on the corner of 4th and Virginia streets. If you can’t wait for the weekend, The Buffet will feature an extended Italian menu starting Monday the 6th until Thursday the 9th and an Italian Seafood Feast on Friday, October 10. Here guests can enjoy traditional Italian meals, snacks, and desserts throughout the week to get in the Italian state of mind.

For a full schedule of events and prices go to http://www.eldoradoreno.com/reno-events/Eldorado-Great-Italian-Festival/.

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RSCVA’S ANNUAL “BLUE GENES JAM®” LIFESTYLE FESTIVAL TO CELEBRATE INVENTION OF BLUE JEANS IN RENO, NEVADA

A new event is coming to Reno Tahoe USA! The Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority (RSCVA) announced today the creation of a new special event, to debut on October 2-4, 2015, celebrating the invention of one of the world’s most iconic products – riveted denim “blue jeans”- by Reno tailor Jacob Davis in the early 1870s.

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According to RSCVA President and CEO Christopher Baum, “The fact that the world’s favorite item of clothing was invented and patented in Reno by Mr. Davis is unknown to most locals, and many denim fans worldwide… but not for long.”

“Blue Genes Jam®” will be a three-day lifestyle festival featuring numerous fun and unique activities around Reno, Sparks and North Lake Tahoe, including: rock and country music concerts; “Jeaneology,” scholarly presentations on the history of blue jeans and their impact on popular culture; the “Jean Pool,” a retail marketplace for vintage jeans, designer denim and accessories; “Jean Therapy,” special discounts at area health spas; the “Blue Jean Ball,” a banquet and silent auction benefitting the Nevada Humane Society; “Jacob’s Joint,” a pop-up bar and restaurant; “Pop(corn) Culture,” a mini-festival of milestone films in the history of blue jeans, such as James Dean’s “Rebel Without a Cause”; and denim fashion shows by international jean manufacturing companies, both large and small.

The concept for Blue Genes Jam® got its start more than a year ago, when Baum received a telephone call in his office from Mr. Robert Wexler of Reno.

According to Baum, “Mr. Wexler had heard me being interviewed on a local radio station and thought I would be interested in a little-known historical fact about our city.”

Wexler shared the story of a tailor named Jacob Davis who had patented his invention of rugged work pants while working at his shop in downtown Reno (on Virginia Street, where the “Knitting Factory” is currently located), and how a group of civic-minded residents (including Mella Harmon, then of the Nevada Historical Society, and former state archivist Guy Roche) worked with the Reno Historical Resources Commission to place a commemorative plaque at the site in May 2006.

Said Baum, “I thanked him for the fascinating information, and promised to get back in touch if I ever found a way to use it to benefit the future growth of tourism in Northern Nevada.”

In the months that followed, Baum would take a few minutes here and there to scour the Internet and bookstores for more details about Jacob Davis and his invention. He learned that the inspiration for Davis’ breakthrough idea occurred when a woman entered his tailor shop in January 1871 complaining that her husband’s work pants kept ripping, due to the rough demands of his job. Davis sewed a new pair of cotton

duck cloth pants for the man and, spying some hardware he normally used for horse blanket straps, added copper rivets to all of the key stress points. The copper riveted pants were a huge success, and soon he was swamped with hundreds of orders, at the premium price of $3.00 a pair. Demand grew further when he started offering the pants in tough, indigo blue denim fabric. Sensing that he had a bona fide hit on his hands, Davis reached out to his fabric supplier – Levi Strauss & Company of San Francisco – to see if they might be interested in helping him pay the $68.00 required to fund the patent application process. On August 9, 1872, “Jacob W. Davis, assignor to himself, and Levi Strauss & Company” submitted the patent application, written and signed by Jacob Davis, who was credited as “Inventor” on the accompanying illustration. On May 20, 1873, the United States Patent Office granted Davis and Levi Strauss & Co. Patent No. 139,121, and a multi-billion dollar fashion industry juggernaut was born, continuing to this day in the United States (where the average American owns a staggering seven pairs of blue jeans!) and virtually everywhere else around the globe.

Jacob Davis spent the rest of his life overseeing the manufacture of his invention for Levi Strauss & Co., selling his interest in the patent and manufacturing rights in 1907. His occupation in the San Francisco City Directory was listed as “manufacturer” in 1874, but by 1903, it had been changed to “capitalist.” He died in 1908 at the age of 77.

Once Baum had formed the basic concept for the Blue Genes Jam® (he dreamed up the name and RSCVA Special Projects Coordinator Ken Koser contributed the “genes” for “jeans” twist), he turned the project over to the entire RSCVA Marketing Department, which will work with local partners – such as concert venues and resort hotels, as well as those facilities owned and/or managed by the RSCVA – over the next 12 months to book the talent, attract the jeans companies and otherwise coordinate the creation of a brand new special event for the region.

“The RSCVA doesn’t normally produce our own events,” said Baum. “But in this case, I am confident in my team’s ability to take a great idea and turn it into a fantastic asset for the region, attracting denim fans from around the country – and around the world – to Northern Nevada.”

According to Baum, “The story of blue jeans started right here in Reno with Jacob Davis, and Levi Strauss & Co. helped make his product into a worldwide work wear and – eventually – fashion staple. But other manufacturers – from Wrangler and Lee to Lucky, Ralph Lauren, Cinch, Ben Davis, and many others – and boutique selvedge/raw denim companies – like the eponymous Jacob Davis, Mister Freedom, Roy Denim, Rogue Territory, imogene + willie, Left Field NYC, and Raleigh Denim Workshop, to name just a few – keep the momentum going today. We look forward to welcoming them all to “The Birthplace of Blue Jeans” on the first weekend of October, in 2015 and every year after, because as those of us fortunate to live and work in Reno Tahoe USA now like to brag, “We have copper rivets in our genes.”

To keep up-to-date on details of the Annual Blue Genes Jam®, please go to the event website, www.BlueGenesJam.com.

Exhibits to Visit: October Edition

Reno Tahoe museums contribute largely to the culture here in Reno, and there are always wonderful exhibits to visit around town. One exhibit you cannot miss is the celebration of Nevada’s 150th birthday, which will be featuring several iconic documents, including The Emancipation Proclamation. From birthday celebrations to wildlife exploration, here are a few major exhibits going on around town.

nevada art 2The Nevada Museum of Art is celebrating Nevada’s big day with a special exhibit that displays artifacts that tell the story of Nevada’s journey to statehood with their 36th Star: Nevada’s Journey from Territory to State exhibit (through November 1). Three of the museum’s galleries hold special documents and objects, such as the original copy of the Nevada State constitution, artifacts belonging to Nevada’s first governor, Nevada photographs taken by O’Sullivan that date back to 1867, and much more! This exhibit is a rare and special event, hosting historical objects that the museum tracked down and loaned from museums across the state and nation. It is a once-in-a-lifetime exhibit that provides visitors a unique opportunity to see all these historical objects in one place. The celebration continues on October 16 with a historical lecture by curator Toby Jurovics on Timothy O’Sullivan’s photography of the civil war. The birthday celebration comes to a close on November 1 with a steampunk ball and carnival, Honest Abe’s Imagination Celebration. At this event, visitors are encouraged to engage in the “grand re-imagining of the future through the wondrous lens of the past.” The Emancipation Proclamation will be on display at the event, as well as on October 30 and 31 and November 2, and visitors are encouraged to dress in costume appropriate for an 1864 party!  For more information on this event visit http://blog.visitrenotahoe.com/nevada-museum-of-art-the-36th-star/.

The Nevada Museum of Art is also showing films from the Wild & Scenic Film Festival on Tour, which consists of six different session of more than 20 independent films from the festival. These films focus on wilderness, wildness, the great outdoors, culture, and environment. Starting with a Kids and Family session at 10:30 on October 18, the event continues until 7:00 that evening. Join others in exploring the wilderness that surrounds us and enjoy a day filled with films and a unique take on outdoor life.

The Sparks Museum & Cultural Center hosts the annual Western Heritage Festival on October 4. Celebrate Nevada arts, culture and traditions through experiential learning. Enjoy demonstrations in basket-weaving, spinning, quilting and saddle-making. There will be cowboy poetry, live music and dancers, displays and children’s activities.

An 11-month exhibit at Reno’s National Automobile Museum is coming to an end on October 10, 2014. The World War II Hits Home exhibit tells the story of WWII in Nevada. It demonstrates the commitments of America’s automakers to producing resources for the war, such as tanks, ammunition, and aircrafts. Learn of the impact on daily life, commitments of local families, and the history of the Tonopah Army Air Field. The exhibit is enriched by the presence of artifacts from private collections, and it is an exhibit that no history buff should miss.

Happy 150th Birthday, Nevada!

Nevada will be celebrating its 150th birthday this month! There are plenty of fun things to do in the Reno area all month long to cheers to Nevada pride until the big day on October 31st.

NV 150The Nevada Museum of Art exhibit titled The 36th Star: Nevada’s Journey from Territory to State displays significant objects and documents that tell the story of Nevada’s journey to statehood, including the transcription of Nevada’s State Constitution that was sent from Governor Nye to Abraham Lincoln by telegram, the original copy of the Nevada State Constitution, artifacts belonging to Nevada’s first governor, and Civil War-era muster rolls that have never been displayed. The exhibit is on display through November 2, 2014. For more information on this event please visit http://blog.visitrenotahoe.com/nevada-museum-of-art-the-36th-star/.

In various locations throughout Reno and Sparks, the Home Means Nevada event consists of a reading of the Nevada-themed story written by Mark Twain. This reading will be accompanied by music from Shiloh, which will be performed by Julie Machado & Tim Gorelangton. These readings take place on October 1, 2, 9, 19, and 29 of 2014.

The NV150 Western Heritage Festival pays tribute to Nevada’s most significant industries- ranching, mining, railroading, gaming, and the military, and it celebrates their important roles in our state’s history. The festival also celebrates Nevada’s culture and heritage through music, poetry, crafts, and more. It takes place on October 4, 2014 in Victorian Square, Sparks.

At the Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts in Reno you can come watch the Classix Two Home Means Nevada Concert. Over three days in October (the 11, 12, and 14) the Reno Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir, along with the Washoe County School District 6th Grad Honor Choir and UNR piano professor Dr. James Winn, will perform a new arrangement of Home Means Nevada. This performance will also feature Desert Garden by Reno born composer Sean Shepherd, Lost Vegas by Michael Daughtery, and Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 2.

One more event before Nevada’s big day is the 4th Annual Nevada Day Governor’s Banquet. This event, which will be held on October 28, 2014 at the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno, is both a gala tradition and a fundraising event led by Nevada’s Governor Brian Sandoval. The evening will feature special guest speakers, live entertainment, a silent auction, a Nevada birthday cake cutting ceremony, and more! A portion of the proceeds will go to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Nevada, as well as the non-profit Nevada Day, Inc.

On October 30 at 10am, Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki is inviting all Nevadans to join him for #NevadaSings, an attempt to set a record for the most people in an American state to sing the state song all at once. Nevadans are encouraged to join in at the designated time wherever they may be: schools, offices, parks, etc. Remember to take a photo or video of you and your group singing “Home Means Nevada”, as video or photo proof will be submitted to RecordSetter, a Las Vegas-based company, to verify the record. For rules, directions, “Home Means Nevada” lyrics, and where to submit your proof, visit www.Nevada150.org.

The celebration expands into Virginia City on October 31st with four events to keep the party going. Starting in the afternoon, an unveiling of Steven Saylor’s portrait “Nine Cheers for the Silver State”. This portrait depicts when Virginia City got the news of Nevada’s statehood. The unveiling of this portrait will be followed by a reception, where paintings will be sold to benefit the Comstock Foundation of History and Culture. After the reception, the Virginia City Statehood Parade will cruise down C Street and is expected to be the largest parade in the state for the celebration. Following the parade, children are invited to spend the night trick-or-treating around town. The child-friendly fun starts at 5pm with a costume contest, and all shops will be open late to make the event fun and safe for everyone. At 7pm the Nevada 150 Masquerade Ball begins at Piper’s Opera House. Participants are encouraged to don “period attire”, such as Victorian era or Steampunk costumes. The Ball is comprised of a meet and greet with dignitaries, champagne and hor d’oeuvres, and live music and dancing to bring our state’s birthday celebration to a close.
(For a full list of events and details please visit www.nevada150.org/events-calendar/ and www.NV150Ball.com)

Reno’s luck – and local scene – looking up

Originally on SFGATE written by Spud Hilton

Downtown Reno Arch - Jeff Dow 2013For too long it was difficult to see Reno as anything but that guy. The weary longtime gambler on a decade-long losing streak who knows that, someday, his luck will change and life will turn around.

It’s a good bet that Reno’s luck (and life) is looking up.

It’s not because the city went after the “big score” — a giant, glitzy attraction solely to bring in tourists. It started taking care of itself. Having recognized that the California gamblers diverted by Indian casinos are never coming back, Reno and its people have spent the past decade making minor adjustments and improvements that make life better for locals — and they’re starting to pay off.

The result: a downtown with more outdoorsy diversions and an increasingly sophisticated dining and drinking scene; a fledgling Midtown district with hip cafes, wine bars and brewpubs that would have seemed unthinkable not that long ago; and an attempt by one resort to bring Vegas-style (and Vegas-size) nightlife to a town that never really had it before.

Lucky or not, the city seems to be on a streak and might be worth a trip over the hills — if only to be surprised by, well, Reno.

Why now? Summer heat is retreating and the bleakness of winter in Reno (and the wretched drive through snow) is still months away.

Backstory: Reno was sucker-punched by the sudden boom of Indian casinos in California 20 years ago, and visitors have declined steadily ever since. Previously strong casinos went belly-up, the buildings turned into condos or just unused shells.

reno riverwalkIn the 1990s, the city created the Riverwalk district scenic corridor and focused on outdoorsy diversions, but it wasn’t until the past 10 years that new businesses really took hold in downtown. Now the focus seems to be on Midtown, a short walk from downtown and Riverwalk, where new starter shops and cafes — most of them independent — are taking root, in some cases inside very old venues.

Checking in: The downtown casinos (Silver Legacy, El Dorado, Harrah’s) are an easy walk to the Riverwalk and to Midtown, although if you plan to partake in nightlife at Lex Nightclub, the city’s first venue comparable to Vegas clubs, consider staying at Sierra Grand Resort. (It isn’t particularly walkable from downtown, but the drive is short and the parking is free at most downtown casinos.)

At Grand Sierra, the style and upkeep are a little more upscale than in downtown, but in most cases the rooms and rates are comparable (especially if you sign up for discount alerts at the website). Along with the new $15 million Lex, Grand Sierra has one of the better lineups of in-casino restaurants, including the Reserve wine bar (80 different bottles for sampling) and Charlie Palmer Steak. Tip: Higher floors offer great views of downtown at night.

Spend your day: In a town full of casino breakfast buffets, Peg’s Glorified Ham n Eggs in Midtown is a popular alternative (if only because it’s not inside a casino). The menu offers standard breakfast dishes, as well as Tex-Mex and Hawaiian plates. It’s part of a small chain, but the vibe is down home. Another alternative is Little House on Center Street (725 S. Center St.).

To work off breakfast, rent a bike for a morning ride on the Truckee River Path, a paved trail along the river that west of downtown winds into the hills. (The trail east crosses town toward Sparks, passing a few small parks and greenbelt on the way, although it can attract a dodgy crowd.)

boulders_799Another option for getting the heart pumping is BaseCamp, the climbing wall and gym (a 7,000-square foot “bouldering park”) connected to the Whitney Peak hotel, inside the former Fitzgeralds Casino and Hotel. The 164-foot climbing wall on the outside of the tower has been there a few years, but Whitney Peak just opened, offering boutique lodging without a casino. Not into climbing? You can still sit by the Reno Arch and watch others burn off breakfast.

From the Riverwalk area, follow Virginia Street south across the river and past a block of office and government buildings. Once you pass Liberty Street (and a white bunker-like strip club), you’ve entered Midtown, a commercial district trying to revamp what was once one of Reno’s more unremarkable neighborhoods.

Do a little window shopping now, making sure to top at artisan cheese shop Wedge (16 St. Lawrence Ave.), PolyEsther’s Costume Boutique (655 S. Virginia St.), Recycled Records (822 S. Virginia St.) and at secondhand palace Junkee Clothing Exchange (960 S. Virginia St.) for sensory overload.

Along the way, grab lunch and an excellent margarita at Mari & Chuy’s Mexican Kitchen, one of three newish restaurants in the Sticks Project. The food is great, but a meal here is also a window seat to most of the revitalization and shaping of Midtown. The Sticks Project is a modern complex that includes UnCork’d Eatery at Midtown, and across the street are Shea’s Tavern and Midtown Eats taking up older brick storefronts on Virginia Street.

For a better example of reuse, walk a block on East Taylor Street to Brasserie Saint James, a hulking, airy restaurant, pub and brewery in what was once the Crystal Springs water plant and ice house. Saint James specializes mostly in Belgian styles, so ask for a row of sampler glasses and study up on the styles. Tours of the brewery are available with advance notice.

If, after all the community-oriented places, you need a dose of Vegas, head to Lex nightclub at Grand Sierra. The $15 million club is the first of its kind in Reno, patterned after the giant, over-the-top megaclubs in Las Vegas, with a swimming pool, private booths, drink service and go-go dancers. And while tourists are a big part of the business, owners have said it will rely also on locals spending plenty of time (and cash) there.

cpDining: If you stay around Midtown, try Midtown Eats, a boutique restaurant where the menu has a surprising amount of variety — from pork belly to elk burgers — despite being really short. If you’re up for the splurge, head back to Grand Sierra Resort and get a table at Charlie Palmer Steak.

Don’t miss: A plate of mortadella, gruyere, asiago and moronga (Spanish blood sausage), washed down with a nice Malbec, at the brand new UnCork’d Eatery at Midtown, a hybrid cafe and wine bar that serves up fine meats and cheeses to go with the healthy, worldly wine list.

Don’t bother: South Virginia Street loses some of its charm past Mary Street. Pick up one of the Midtown district maps available at most businesses, although be aware it’s not entirely up to date (see below).

Word to the wise: The Midtown district map lists the Chocolate Walrus (1278 S. Virginia St.) as “specializing in handmade chocolate products” — which might be true, but the current business is a quirky adult boutique with sex toys and lingerie.

If you go

Where to stay

Grand Sierra Resort: 2500 E. Second St., (775) 789-2000, www.grandsierraresort.com. Polished casino resort with spa and range of restaurants. Rates start at $60 per night midweek.

Whitney Peak: 255 N. Virginia St., (775) 398-5400, www.whitneypeakhotel.com. Recently opened chic makeover of the old Fitzgeralds hotel. Rates starting at $109 per night.

Where to eat

Peg’s Glorified Ham n Eggs: 420 S Sierra St., (775) 329-2600, www.eatatpegs.com. Open daily for breakfast and lunch only. Entrees: $7-$14

Mari & Chuy’s Mexican Kitchen: 764 S Virginia St., (775) 322-6866, www.chuysmexicankitchen.com. Mexican and Tex-Mex staples with full bar. Entrees: $7-$16

UnCork’d Eatery at Midtown: 760 S. Virgina St., (775) 360-3082, www.760uncorkd.com. Cafe and wine bar specializing in fine meats, cheeses and wines.

Midtown Eats: 719 South Virginia St., (775) 324-3287, www.midtowneatsreno.com. Open daily for lunch and dinner (and brunch on Sunday). Entrees: $10-$34.

Charlie Palmer Steak: (inside Sierra Grand Resort) , (775) 789-2458, www.charliepalmer.com. Uber-upscale steak and seafood — and a really famous name. Entrees: $28-$68.

What to do

Sierra Adventures: 11 N. Sierra St., (866) 323-8928, www.wildsierra.com. Bike rentals (call ahead) run $19-$49 per 24-hour day.

Brasserie Saint James: 901 S. Center St., (775) 348-8888, www.brasseriesaintjames.com. Taster glasses $3

Lex Nightclub: (inside Sierra Grand Resort), (775) 789-5399, www.lexnightclub.com. A 25,00-square-foot nightclub with celebrity DJs, VIP tables and bottle service.

Base Camp: (Second floor of Whitney Peak hotel), (775) 398-5443, www.basecampreno.com. Indoor “bouldering park” and climbing wall outside. Day passes are $17-$22 per day including gear rental.

More information

Midtown district:www.midtowndistrictreno.com.

Spud Hilton is the editor of The San Francisco Chronicle’s Travel section. E-mail: travel@sfchronicle.com Twitter and Instagram: @spudhilton