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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

Reno Chamber Orchestra’s 40th Season

The 40th season of the Reno Chamber Orchestra began Saturday, September 20th and Sunday, the 21st, and the chosen program was the perfect lineup to start it off. William Barton, one of Australia’s leading didgeridoo players, was scheduled to perform alongside the RCO. However, due to an illness Barton was unable to fly into the states and last-minute changes had to be made. Fortunately, the RCO is filled with incredibly talented and eager musicians, and RCO’s principal oboist Rong-Huey Liu stepped up to fill Barton’s place. Her performance was captivating, and her obvious confidence made it easy for audience members forget that she had only had 24 hours to prepare herself to fill Barton’s highly-praised shoes. Alongside Liu and conductor Theodore Kuchar was a wonderfully diverse orchestra with musicians differing in age, gender, and race.  Witnessing such a wide variety of people on stage and in the audience shows just how far the power of music can reach, and the RCO is the perfect example of how easily it can bring people together.

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The orchestra performed four pieces varying in length and style: Mozart’s Oboe Concerto, Telemann’s “Water Music,” Peter Sculthorpe’s “From Ubirr,” and Mendelssohn’s “Scottish Symphony.” Even to RCO amateurs, it is easy to see how incredibly talented the orchestra is- individually and as a whole. It doesn’t take a PhD in music composition and performance to understand how much time and energy each musician has put into his or her part, and their passion for the music shined through with each and every note. The pieces chosen for the season opener were very unique, filled with special effects and non-instrumental sounds. For example, Telemann’s “Water Music” included measures that called for stomping by the orchestra. This was surprising to anybody in the audience who was unfamiliar with this movement and offered a comical element to the otherwise formal piece. In Sculthorpe’s “From Ubirr,” cellists created a distorted sound by sliding their fingers up and down the neck of their instruments, which added to the eeriness and mystery of the music. It’s these types of risks that demonstrate the orchestra’s skill set and deep understanding of the music, as well as their desire to not only play each note correctly, but to keep the audience entertained and sitting on the edge of their seats. This type of engagement allows for a unique and unforgettable experience.

The RCO’s 40th season opening weekend was a huge success. With multiple audience members recognized and congratulated on their steadfast support since the RCO’s first season, newer attendees were welcomed into the community with encouraging words of acceptance. The RCO’s goal of an all-inclusive experience allows for supporters new and old to come together in an organic and enjoyable way. This opening performance set a high bar for the rest of the season, and it was made clear by the fire in each musician’s eyes that they are not going to settle for anything less than exceptional for their 40th season.

Fall in love with Reno Tahoe’s Fall Festivities

Despite the relentless summer-like weather, fall is finally upon us! While donning a scarf and sipping hot chocolate may seem like something for the distant future, anyone who’s familiar with Reno Tahoe weather knows that can change in an instant. The Reno area is gearing up for all things autumn with a plethora of events for all members of the community.

Starting on September 24, Street Vibrations kicks of the season with their Fall Rally. The Wednesday through Sunday event offers enough music and motorcycles to satisfy any bike-lover’s dreams. Events throughout the rally include live music, scavenger hunts, and celebrity appearances by big names such as History Channel’s Paul Teutul Sr. and Danny Koker. With 250 vendors and 15 factory rigs, Street Vibrations will have everything motorcycle and more!

For those interested in a different kind of wild, the Animal Ark is holding a number of events throughout the month of October.  Their “Harvest Festivals” take place on October 4th and 18th, and promise an afternoon of animal watching. On these Saturdays, the Ark’s predators are given pumpkins containing their favorite treats. Visitors are encouraged to watch and take pictures as the animals work to open their pumpkins and enjoy their snacks. Another event hosted by the Animal Art is the Cheetah Run, which will put on its final run of the season on October 12th. At this event, cheetahs are allowed the rare privilege of running off their leashes demonstrating grace and incredible speed. Watching these wild animals run free is sure to be an unforgettable experience.

Of course with October comes Halloween, which means that ‘tis the season for horror and spooky fun. The Aces Ballpark is hosting Fright Fest Production’s 9th annual “Slaughter House,” which is open Thursday through Sunday, starting October 3rd. For those who enjoy getting their heart rate up in a unique way, Northern Nevada’s largest indoor haunted house is for you! After a full redesign, this year’s House contains new rooms and scarier scenes that are guaranteed to keep your adrenaline pumping all night long. In addition to the Slaughter House, the ballpark’s “Fright” House District will be open for food and beverages to help you unwind after an evening of screams and scares.

Prost! Bavarian music, brats and beer gardens will be of plenty at Squaw Valley’s annual Oktoberfest, September 27 from 2pm to 6pm. Participate in a friendly competition of traditional games, or relax with a beer in hand and a view of the Sierra all around. Entertainment at the event is free. For $10, you’ll receive a specialty glass and first beer, $5 for additional beer.

A more kid-friendly event that is sure to entertain is the Andelin Family Farms Pumpkin Patch and Cornmaze Harvest Festival. Starting September 27th and continuing through the 1st of November, the family farm provides fun for participants of all ages. The harvest includes the crowd-favorite corn maze, which is designed to celebrate Nevada’s 150th year birthday. There will also be barnyard games, animals, and a pumpkin patch that guarantees a large selection of pumpkins perfect for carving and pie making.

So whether you’re a rowdy biker looking for loud music and new bike gear or a family interested in a peaceful afternoon, the fall season offers a number of festive events for all ages and interests. Check out the events calendar for a full list of fall events that are guaranteed to make this fall fun, family-oriented, spooky, or anything else you’re hoping for!

20th Annual Street Vibrations Fall Rally

More Riders, Gawkers and Celebrities

Thousands of riders and motorcycle enthusiasts will enjoy music, metal, motorcycles, amazing bikes, and TV celebrities during the 20th annual Street Vibrations® Rally Sept. 24-28 in downtown Reno, at Chester’s Reno Harley-Davidson and in Virginia City.

The 4th largest motorcycle event in the nation, Street Vibrations®, will take over the main streets in downtown Reno and Virginia City. Special event plazas, parking areas and event space in hotels/casinos will be filled with live entertainment and vendors selling everything from leather chaps, helmets, artwork and sunglasses to motorcycle boots, chrome, LED lights and insurance.

The event is free and open to the public.  Motorcycle participants pay a fee to take part in Street Vibrations® to participate in; poker runs, ride-in competitions, slow bike races, scavenger hunts and VIP parties. Registered participants receive a 5 day VIP parking pass, an official ride pin and an exclusive 20th anniversary Street Vibrations® 2014 shirt.

Celebrities

This year, co-founder of Orange County Chopper’s and star of the Discovery Channel’s reality TV series “American Chopper,” Paul Teutul Sr. and Danny Koker, star of the History Channel’s reality TV series “Counting Cars” will be joining in the fun.

Teutul, is a custom and production motorcycle manufacturer originally based in Orange County New York and the outspoken “American Chopper” TV star.

Koker is star of the reality TV series that chronicles daily activities at Count’s Kustoms, an automobile restoration and customization company he owns and operates in Las Vegas, NV.

Both Teutul and Koker will be available for photographs and conversations during “Meet and Greet” sessions at multiple venues during Street Vibrations®. Koker will perform with his band, Count’s 77 on Friday at 6 p.m. at the Jagermeister Stage on the El Dorado special events plaza.

Reno

Virginia Street in downtown Reno will host multiple Street Vibrations® stages with non-stop music from live bands, Factory Rigs, vendors selling all things motorcycle, festival food booths and more from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thurs. through Sat., Wed., 12 to 9 p.m., and Sun.,

10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Chester’s Reno Harley-Davidson® is also an official venue hosting vendors, live bands and festival food and beverages.

The Reno Ballroom in downtown Reno will host participant and vendor registration, vendor booths, the Tattoo Expo and meet and greet sessions with TV Celebrities.  The Reno Ballroom is also where you’ll find America’s Finest Custom Bike Builder’s Expo featuring cutting edge custom motorcycle creations and the Bike Corral, where registered participants can buy or sell a bike to private parties.

Virginia City

In Virginia City the action will be on “C” Street, the main street through the historic mining town.  Enjoy live music from a variety of bands and vendors from across the nation.

Some Highlights

Street Vibrations® will feature a Huey Lewis & The News concert at the Silver Legacy on Fri., Sept. 26, ceremonial flag raising on both Fri. and Sat., Sept. 26 & 27, police on parade led by Grand Marshall Paul Teutul on Thurs. Sept. 25 and Grand Marshall Danny Koker on Sat., Sept. 27.  The event includes a popular wet T-shirt contest and drawings to win Harley-Davidson® motorcycles. VIP registered participants will enjoy scavenger  hunts in downtown Reno and poker runs up to historic Virginia City and beautiful Lake Tahoe. Free, non-stop entertainment from live bands can be enjoyed by everyone at all venues.

Watch this short video from last year’s event!

IRONMAN Lake Tahoe Spectator’s Guide 2014

Lake Tahoe is considered one of the toughest courses! Watch 2,500 of the strongest athletes from around the globe compete in the iconic 2nd annual IRONMAN Lake Tahoe. The setting alone is remarkable!

Here are some tidbits to help you get the most out of being a spectator at this year’s event.

DATE:
September 22, 2013
DISTANCES:
2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and 26.2-mile run
LOCATION:
Swim Start: 8318 North Lake Blvd State Route 28 Kings Beach, CA 96143
Finish Line: The Village at Squaw Valley 1985 Squaw Valley Rd Squaw Valley, CA 96146
COURSE CUT-OFF TIMES:
SWIM: The swim course will close 2 hours and 20 minutes after the last age
group athlete starts the swim. Each athlete will get the full 2 hours and
20 minutes to complete the 2.4 mile swim regardless of what time they
enter the water. Athletes who take longer than 2 hours and 20 minutes
to complete the swim will receive a DNF.
BIKE: 5:30 p..m.
RUN: Midnight
FINISH LINE CUT-OFF: 17 hours (or 12 midnight)

DATE:

September 21, 2014

DISTANCES:

2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and 26.2-mile run

LOCATION:

Swim Start: 8318 North Lake Blvd State Route 28 Kings Beach, CA 96143

Finish Line: The Village at Squaw Valley 1985 Squaw Valley Rd Squaw Valley, CA 96146

COURSE CUT-OFF TIMES:

SWIM: The swim course will close 2 hours and 20 minutes after the last age group athlete starts the swim. Each athlete will get the full 2 hours and 20 minutes to complete the 2.4 mile swim regardless of what time they enter the water. Athletes who take longer than 2 hours and 20 minutes to complete the swim will receive a DNF.

BIKE: 5:30 p..m.

RUN: Midnight

FINISH LINE CUT-OFF: 17 hours (or 12 midnight)

WHERE DO I PARK?

Athletes are encouraged to park at Squaw Valley and ride the shuttle busses to Kings Beach. Spectators will be allowed to ride the bus with athletes, but priority will be given to athletes. Busses will take approximately 20-30 minutes to travel from Squaw Valley to Kings Beach, please plan accordingly. Athlete busses will operate from 4:30 a.m. to 5:30 a.m. Spectator buses will operate until 6 a.m. Shuttle buses are free. Return buses from Kings Beach to Squaw Valley for spectators will operate from 9:45 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. Due to traffic impacts, anticipate the return trip to Squaw Valley taking 60 minutes.

BEST PLACE TO WATCH THE SWIM:

Kings Beach State Park, athletes will enter the swim from Kings Beach State Park, and Transition is in the parking lot adjacent to the beach. The best place to park will be at Kings Beach Elementary School, a few short blocks from the beach off Steelhead Ave.

BEST PLACE TO WATCH THE BIKE:

Spectators have a number of great places to watch athletes on the bike course. Spectators can watch athletes at two “hot corners” where athletes will pass multiple times. One is at the entrance to Squaw Valley under the Olympic flame where you can see your athlete pass three times. The second will be in Kings Beach at the Corner of 267 and 28 where athletes will be starting their day on the bike, and then passing 3 additional times. The Town of Truckee will also be having a street celebration closing down Donner Pass Road through old town Truckee with the athletes racing down the middle of the street. There will be live music, activities for kids and adults, and food at restaurants adjacent to the course.

BEST PLACE TO WATCH THE RUN:

The run course has a number of lively spots to catch your athlete multiple times. The Squaw Valley Village will be an ideal location, close to the finish line, with food, music, the Ironman Village expo, and athletes making multiple passes in the area before finishing. Easy parking also makes this an ideal location to spend the day. The “hot corner” under the Olympic flame will also be a location where athletes can be cheered on three times on the bike and 4 times on the run.

The Great Reno Balloon Race 2014

It’s worth the wake! Be dazzled by hundreds of colorful balloons as they rise above Reno, September 5-7! It’s the largest FREE hot-air balloon event in the world!

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Glow Shows
Beginning at 5:00am on Saturday and Sunday, a handful of glowing balloons will act as a beacon to those sleepy spectators making their way to the launch field. Friday morning only is the Super Glow Show starting at 5:15 a.m. This new feature showcases 20+ balloons glowing and twinkling to music across the field.

Dawn Patrol
A trademark of The Great Reno Balloon Race worth the early rise, the show features a handful of balloons that are qualified to fly in the dark. This is a dangerous task as atmospheric conditions change drastically as the sun begins to rise. Balloonists glow, twinkle and fly along with choreographed music across a darkened sky, leaving the crowd awe struck. Saturday and Sunday only starting at 5:30 a.m.

T-6 Formation Fly Over
Each morning during the national anthem, just as the American flag is presented for Mass Ascension, spectators will be thrilled by a T-6 formation fly over. Thanks to our partnership with National Championship Air Races, visitors can experience just a brief taste of what the Air Races are all about.

Mass Ascension Launch
Starting at 6:45am on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, nearly 100 balloons will launch from Rancho San Rafael Park. The splendor of these unique and beautiful balloons thrills the crowd as they enjoy the multitude of vibrant sights and sounds in the early morning light.

Balloon Boulevard
Crafts, souvenirs, food and warm drinks await spectators at the concession line. Official posters may also be purchased here along with official Balloon Race clothing and memorabilia. We encourage you to visit and support our vendors as they are part of the reason this event continues to be free.

Check out the list of participating balloons this year – from Darth Vader, to the soccer ball, to Smokey the Bear, to chili peppers, to beagles to fish – this year’s event has it all!

26th Annual Best In The West Nugget Rib Cook-Off Set For August 27th through September 1st

The 26th annual Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-off will run Wednesday, August 27, through Monday, September 1, 2014. This must-attend culinary, barbecue, music and craft festival is open 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday, and 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Monday. Admission is free!

More than 500,000 visitors and 230,000 pounds of ribs were served in 2013. The wide variety of activities within the event, including the Nugget World Rib Eating Championship, a carnival area with rides and activities, and top-notch entertainment – not to mention the best BBQ in the country  – all come together to draw thousands of people to Victorian Square every extended Labor Day weekend.

Cooker-rib pile

Rib Cookers

Twenty-three of the world’s most decorated and talented rib cookers will feed event goers, while competing for a total cash purse of $14,500 and the title of “Best in the West” – a designation many cookers consider to be the ultimate prize in high-volume competitive BBQ.  In 2013, Famous Dave’s BBQ took home the title of “Best in the West,” their third time following wins in 2006 & 2007 at the event. Another top honor – the 2013 People’s Choice Award was given to Chicago Barbecue Co. See the full list of rib cookers here: http://www.nuggetribcookoff.com/About-The-Event/Cookers.html

2014’s winners will be announced on Monday, September 1, 2014 at the West End Stage at 2 p.m.

Rib Eating Competition

Major League Eating (MLE), the governing body of all stomach-centric sports, will host the 9th annual Nugget World Rib Eating Championship at 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, August 27, at the Main Stage area. The country’s best competitive eaters, including Joey Chestnut will vie for $5,000 and the title of World Champion.  It’s estimated the top competitors will consume eight-plus pounds of meat during the 12-minute competition.

Entertainment

As always, the Nugget will welcome many talented musicians to be a big part of the celebration. Free headline concerts include: Lit on Wednesday, Eric Hutchinson on Thursday, Joan Osborne’s Soul Revue on Friday, Joe Diffie on Saturday, Jefferson Starship on Sunday and Robert Randolph & The Family Band on Monday. All headline concerts will be at 7:00 p.m. except Monday, which will be at 3:00 p.m. In all, more than 40 bands will play on multiple stages throughout the six-day Victorian Square event.

Shuttle Service

Daily shuttle service from the Legends at Sparks Marina will run Wednesday through Thursday from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., Friday from 3:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m.  There is no shuttle service on Monday. The pickup location will be in the unpaved lot between Fuddruckers and Popeye’s, and the drop-off location is the Sparks RTC Centennial Plaza.

Kids’ Area

There will be a children’s area located on the west end of Victorian Plaza. Children will delight in an array of rides and activities including:  an obstacle course, bounce house, slide and mechanical swing. Ride tickets will be available for purchase just outside the kids’ area.

New Cookers

New to the event this year are Hole In the Wall BBQ from Oregon and Yazoo’s BBQ from Mississippi. Four of the 23 rib cookers will be locate on Victorian Plaza near the movie theater. You will be able to find Desperado’s BBQ Rib Co., Yazoo’s BBQ, Butch’s “Smack Your Lips” BBQ and Hole In The Wall BBQ at this location.  Crafters and vendors will also be located at the East end of Victorian Avenue during the cook-off. See map: http://www.nuggetribcookoff.com/Maps-Directions/Event_Maps.html

Things to do Labor Day Weekend in Reno Tahoe

It’s time for one last summer trip over Labor Day Weekend! Skip the neighborhood barbecue, and tell Siri to direct you to Reno Tahoe where a full list of events is heating up!

handful ribsPig out at Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-off

We’re not saying skip all barbecues Labor Day weekend, we’re just saying GO BIG, with 230,000+ pounds of ribs at the Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-off at Victorian Square in Sparks!  From August, 27- September 1, JA Nugget will be holding their 26th annual Rib Cook-off.  The aromas will collide in the air to conjure a perfume of mouthwatering desire, and the hundreds of fully-packed grills will call out for you to stop at every vendor.  There will be 24 rib vendors from all around the world coming prepared to feed an expected crowd of 500,000 people. Watch in awe as rib-eating champions devour multiple pounds of savory sauce covered swine during the Nugget Rib Cook-off World Rib Eating Championship.  Last year’s 1st place prize went to the record holding Joey Jaws Chestnut with 13.76 pounds of ribs devoured in just 12 minutes. Pig out, then dance the food comas away.  The main stage will have LIT on stage Aug. 27, Eric Hutchinson on Aug. 28, Joan Osborne on Aug. 29, Joe Diffie on Aug. 30, Jefferson Starship on Aug. 31, and Robert Randolph & The Family Band on Sept. 1.  Admission and parking is free, with shuttles running to the overflow parking at Legends every half hour.  For more information, visit the Nugget Rib Cook-Off Website.

Take your pack to watch The Pack

Head to University of Nevada’s Homecoming Game with Nevada Wolf Pack vs. Southern Utah, on August 30.  Take a selfie with the Pack mascots, or grab a beer at one of the only university stadiums with a liquor license.  The University of Nevada students make every game fun for the family. All will enjoy the howl of the wolves. Tickets range in price but start around $20 for general admission.

Re-enact the Civil War Days (safely)

Historic Virginia City will be holding its 150th anniversary of defending the Comstock as part of Virginia City Civil War Days.  The Comstock Civil War re-enactors will bring Virginia City back into the days of the Nevada’s creation.  In conjunction with the V&T Railroad, more than 100 costumed re-enactors from across the United States will battle for the Comstock.  Gunfire, smoke, screams and fear will resonate through the valley. There will be a wide array of events, parades, dances and re-enactments going on from Aug. 30 until Sept. 1, to learn more about the historic happenings visit the event’s website

Sand Harbor 2If beating the heat is in the agenda, then head to Lake Tahoe for some alpine lake relaxation.  Lake Tahoe always boasts fun for all ages with SUP and other water adventures, mountain hikes, beach relaxation, luxurious accommodations and great restaurants – it is hard to resist the great getaway. On Aug. 31, the 21st Great Lake Tahoe Sternwheeler Race will churn some blue water between the Nevadan Dixie Queen and California’s Tahoe Queen.  The 4-mile race will have the paddles spinning to the max as the two battle for bragging rights. Have a family picnic on August 31 at one of the many parks and beaches on the lake, and bring some blankets with to enjoy Labor Day fireworks of Tahoe North or South.

Where to Burn your Time in Reno Tahoe

If the crazy weather is raining on your parade (literally) as you try to get to Burning Man 2014, let Reno Tahoe brighten your day!

Here is a list of things you can do to burn your time in Reno Tahoe – parties, activities, burner shops, food stops and more:

LEX Nightclub

You aren’t the only one who is stuck in town tonight – the DJs who were set to play at Burning Man are here in Reno with you! Come party with fellow Burners and Burning Man’s hottest DJs. No cover, no dress code. 10pm. Tonight!

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Aces Stadium

Watch the Reno Aces play Omaha in downtown Reno at Aces Stadium!

Nevada Museum of Art

Learn more about Nevada’s history outside of Black Rock City’s city limits. “The 36th Star” celebrates Nevada’s 150th anniversary!

Eat Fresh and Local Food

Enjoy some delicious eats before you head back out to the Playa. Here is a food lover’s guide to Midtown Reno that will surely have you drooling in no time.

Shop for More Burning Man Outfits

You can never have enough, right?! Here are a few of the top stores for finding the perfect Burning Man outfits and necessities for the Playa. Plus, we have included a list of a few essential you may or may not have packed!

Food for Thought for the Playa

Stock up on more great eats for your time in Black Rock City. Here are a few key stores that will have your favorite foods.

Hotel Deals

Let your friends know about these packages and deals for Reno hotel rooms to stay dry, clean and cozy before heading back out to the Playa tomorrow!