Tag Archives: Reno Events Blog

39 North Pole Village 2016

39 North Pole Village Returned to Sparks December 9 – December 10, 2016


Volunteer Sweatshirt

39 North Downtown community group presented the 2nd annual 39 North Pole Village on Friday, December 9 and Saturday December 10 at Victorian Square Plaza. I have had a lot of fun with this event because I helped start it last year, and I am helping it grow each year.

The event unofficially started in 2014 with a tiny event where parents brought their kids down to Victorian Square to write letters to Santa and put them in a large mailbox. Then in 2015, we decided to add a light festival and vendors to the event and call it 39 North Pole Village. Interest in the event skyrocketed! It has been very rewarding to see the event grow and I’m proud to be co-chair of the committee that is making this happen for the Sparks community.


Photo by: Donald Abbott

The second-year of 39 North Pole Village was at least twice as large as the 2015 event. The winter wonderland featured thousands of sparkling lights, holiday shopping booths, great food and holiday cheer. There were free pictures with Santa and a special booth where children could write letters to Santa. The highlight of the event was Engine 39, the newest member of the “Rail City” fleet. Rides are always free, so this is a great option for families that are looking to entertain the little ones.

Another new addition this year was the Veterans Resource Center of America booth run by Shane Whitecloud and crew. This booth was fully stocked with Christmas cards so event attendees could sign a card and have it sent to military folks serving overseas. It was so popular that they ran out of cards and had to find more. It was a great addition to the second annual event and nice to see our community sending holiday wishes to our military serving far from home.

39 North Pole Village is a truly special holiday celebration. This year we added the Griswold Family Challenge. The event, inspired by Clark Griswold in the Chevy Chase Christmas Vacation movie, saw families and businesses compete for the best light display. This is a really fun competition because there is cash on the line. It costs $100 to enter the competition and $50 per entry fee goes into the prize pool. The winner this year was Salon 2000 and they won $350. I’m going to try to get a lot more businesses to compete next year, hopefully the prize money is more than $1,000 in 2017.


This was my Griswold Family Challenge display. I didn’t win, but the kiddos loved my display.

We also had a larger vendor tent in 2016. It was sold out to vendors renting space. The tent is heated so it is very popular at this winter event. The vendors said it was a great event for them and they all went home with quite a bit of extra money in their bank accounts just in time for the holidays. We hope next year to have so many vendors that we need two tents.


Vendor tent at 39 North Pole Village – Photo by: Donald Abbott

We were happy with how the event turned out this year, but there was one big issue. Mother Nature. On the second day of the event it rained all day and all night, which put some pressure on the power grid and caused some of the light displays to go dark. We are going to need to invest in more electrical supplies and protective boxes since this is an outdoor winter event.

We also had a bit of flooding in the vendor tent because it was raining so hard. Our volunteers and board members jumped into action and we were able to save the light displays and reroute the flood waters as best as possible. Having events during the winter is challenging to say the least!

We have big plans for this event. I personally hope that over the next 10 years it continues to grow and eventually it is so big that the displays stay up the whole month of December. It is a lot of work to setup the displays so it is a bummer when you take them down after two days. The event needs to grow so that the displays can be built and left open to the public for the whole month.

We had several new sponsors this year and I’m sure that will also continue to grow next year. With the community’s help, we will grow a new holiday tradition for future generations!

I can’t wait to see what we accomplish with the 2017 event!

For more information about 39 North Downtown click here.

If you would like to become a sponsor or volunteer for 39 North Pole Village, please email me at LisaJansenNV@gmail.com and I will send you more information.


Reno-Sparks 2015 Citizen Special Event Survey


Photo Credit: RSCVA & UNR Center for Regional Studies

The Reno-Sparks Convention & Visitors Authority (RSCVA) partnered with the City of Reno and City of Sparks to collect opinions from locals about special events. They wanted to hear from residents in particular because if they aren’t drawn to special events in the community the events probably won’t be attractive enough to draw tourists from out the area. The other goals were to share the information with event producers so they can use them to enhance their events, and use the information to solicit new events. Special events play a valuable role in our community. They add to quality of life and generate economic impact for the region. It is important to have a combination of residents and tourists to support special events.

Nina Brown, RSCVA; Francine Burge, City of Sparks; and Alexis Hill, City of Reno were the leaders for the survey project. They did a fantastic job! The survey was funded by the RSCVA, City of Sparks and City of Reno. Survey analysis was provided by Center for Regional Studies at University of Nevada. The survey responses are going to be incredibly helpful to all of us event producers in the region.

The results of the survey were shared with event producers at a meeting this week. There was a lot of good information, way too much to review in one blog post.  There were a few results that were very fascinating to me. I will elaborate in future blog posts, but for now I’d like to highlight a few results that caught my attention.

Reno…Always Tardy for the Party!

The survey asked “When you go to an event, how far in advance do you make the decision to attend?” The top two responses were when first notified of event and the week of the event. Very few responders made plans further than a week before the events they attended. Event producers constantly talk about how Reno-Sparks ticket buyers usually buy tickets the day of the event and it always makes us nervous because we can’t forecast event attendance. The survey results just proved that we were right in our theory that they don’t plan ahead. It also made me think we should boost all of our advertising big time the week of the event to get as many locals to show up as possible.

Traditional Media Isn’t Dead

Everyone is crazy about social media and e-newsletters. If you want to attract millennials that is where you should be. If you want to attract customers 35 and older, you might want to consider spending some money on periodic publications, TV or radio. In the Reno-Sparks market that seems to be where most people over 35 years old get information about events and activities to attend.

Reno-Sparks is Price Sensitive

When it comes to spending money at events or on tickets, customers in the Reno-Sparks area are very price sensitive. They want to attend free events but not pay much for them. This is a pretty hard business model to follow. I couldn’t help but wonder if this community culture was caused by the heyday of the casinos when everything was comped because gaming was so profitable. Did everyone get used to having great experiences, the best entertainment, and low cost food and beverage subsidized by gambling? Why aren’t people willing to pay for the experiences that the special events offer?  How can we make sure to price events correctly and offer enough value to keep customers coming back? This section of the report gave me a lot to ponder.

I look forward to delving deeper into the survey and applying the knowledge to the events I produce. Stay tuned for more blog posts about the survey results. There are countless morsels of good information to share that event producers can use to improve their events and give customers more of what they want. I can’t wait to apply some of the lessons learned this upcoming event season!

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