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!
Last October I missed the inaugural Reno Lantern Fest. I read about the event after it was already sold out. I was disappointed because I knew I missed out on something extraordinary.
Saturday I was able to finally attend my first Lantern Fest. I talked my parents and my friend Val into attending with me. They weren’t quite sure what they were in for, but I knew it would be an amazing experience.
Mom & Dad at Reno Lantern Fest
The Lantern Fest is a celebration held out at the Fernley Raceway, about thirty minutes from Reno, NV. Thousands of people attended the event. They wrote their dreams and wishes on paper lanterns and then released them as a symbol of hope.
The floating lanterns are a beautiful tradition. It is a meaningful experience to release a lantern and the experience leaves you with a positive attitude and feeling optimistic.
Like what you’ve seen? Subscribe to Mad About Events Blog by adding your email address to the form on the right. You’ll be the first to read about local events and get behind-the-scenes stories about being an event professional.
Being nominated as one of the best BBQ festivals in the country is a huge honor. Winning means a lot of national publicity for the event and a new level of community pride. We all know that Sparks, Nevada is home to the best BBQ festival in the country, so now we want the rest of the country to know. Six-days of rib cooking and 241,000 pounds of ribs makes this the nation’s winner when it comes to the largest BBQ festival. Now we want the official title as USA Today Reader’s Choice Best BBQ Festival.
A title like USA Today Best BBQ Festival 2016 will also open doors for new sponsorship opportunities. It gives us a talking point when we pitch national sponsorships, and it would be nice to go back to the national companies that won’t give us the time of day and show them we are the best. The bragging rights that come with this title are enormous!
Voting is easy! You can vote once a day on each electronic device you own. That means you should vote using your home computer, laptop, smart phone, tablet, and work computer, as long as it won’t get you in trouble with the boss.
The 2nd annual Reno Sculpture Fest was held on May 6 – 8 in downtown Reno, Nevada. The event featured 30 art installations including larger-than-life sculptures, art cars, sound stages for live performances, interactive activities, and after parties. I was really excited after the inaugural event last year. I feel like Sculpture Fest has a lot of potential and I look forward to seeing what it grows into over the next few years.
The top two factors that make this a great event:
Larger-than-life sculptures – There is something so humbling about seeing an enormous piece of artwork. It gets your imagination working and inspires you. I am awestruck by the artists and their sculptures. The sculptures at this event do not disappoint!
Location! Location! Location! – Having the event right under the Reno Arch is perfect! This makes it easy to get to the event because there are several nearby parking options. The location also enables event attendees to take fabulous pictures with the world-famous Reno arch in the background. Every picture is like a post card promoting Reno. Great photo ops for locals and tourists alike!
Tips if you go next year:
Go early in the day. The early morning hours are best. We went in the late afternoon and the event was awkwardly crowded. We couldn’t read about the art on the small signs and it just felt like we were in the way when trying to look at the sculptures and take pictures. We also saw more than our fair share of burners, street performers and panhandlers that afternoon. My friends that went in the morning had a much better experience. They had time to enjoy the art and the event was much less crowded. They were also able to take some really great photos with the morning lighting.
Bring your camera! My camera stopped working after our first twenty minutes at the event. It was operator error, but still a bummer. Thank goodness for cell phones! Don’t just bring a camera, bring a backup camera.
I look forward to seeing what Reno Sculpture Fest has in store for fans in 2017. I like Burning Man, but I hope Sculpture Fest starts moving away from a Burning Man theme and there is more focus on sculptures of all sizes. The sculptures make this event truly unique, hopefully more artists are drawn to the event next year and it continues to grow.
This is a great opportunity for artists to show their work and to rally for art sculptures and culture. Potential art donors and sponsors should be drawn to this event. There is a great opportunity to build an artisan marketplace for sculptures and specialty artwork. I could see this eventually becoming a major event for people looking to purchase artwork.
Did you go to Sculpture Fest? Comment below about your favorite piece of artwork. Got pictures? Please share them!
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!
Like what you’ve seen? Subscribe to Mad About Events Blog by adding your email address to the form on the right. You’ll be the first to read about local events and get behind-scenes-stories from event professionals.
The holidays are a magical time of year. There are so many traditions and more special events to attend than one can put on the calendar. To make the most of your family time this holiday season, don’t miss these three special events. They all offer family fun at an affordable price. Enjoy the season!
Sparks 29th Annual Hometowne Christmas Parade Saturday, December 5, 2015 from 1 p.m. – 3 p.m.
This year the theme of the parade is “All Aboard The Hometowne Express!” and you should come down to Sparks to see one of the best holiday parades in the great State of Nevada. The traditional Christmas parade will feature a train theme this year. Enjoy entertainment, photos with Santa, and arts and crafts. Don’t forget to bring a toy for the annual Toys-For-Tots toy drive.
Parking: Surface lots around the parade route, in the parking garage by the theater or the garage on C Street. Sparks Hometowne Christmas Parade Facebook Page
39 North Pole Village – New Event! Friday, December 11, 5 p.m. – 9 p.m. and Saturday, December 12, 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.
The Nugget Casino Resort and 39 North Downtown are partnering to bring you this new event that will turn downtown Sparks into a holiday winter wonderland. The event will feature thousands of sparkling lights, holiday shopping booths for unique gifts, great food, family fun and holiday cheer. Santa will be there to read special letters and take requests. Stop by the Hot Chocolate Holiday Train and take in a special showing of “The Polar Express” in the Amphitheater. This is an inaugural event that is sure to become a new holiday tradition for families in northern Nevada.
Cost: FREE (Christmas light donations are appreciated)
Parking: Surface lots around the event, in the parking garage on C Street, or in the Nugget parking garage. 39 North Pole Village Facebook Page
Friday, December 18 – Wednesday, December 23 Reno Dance Company’s 14th annual Nutcracker appearance will be held in the Celebrity Showroom at the Nugget Casino Resort. The Nutcracker ballet is based on the story “The Nutcracker and the King of Mice” written by E.T.A. Hoffman, and is always popular during the holiday season. The story takes place on Christmas Eve and has become a special tradition for many families that take in the show each year the week before Christmas. Proceeds from the show benefit Reno Dance Company.
Cost: Tickets are $26.95 for regular seating. $21.95 for seniors, and $19.95 for children under 12. VIP booth seating is available for $36.95 per ticket. Click here for show times, ticket purchases and additional ticket information.
Parking: Nugget Casino Resort parking garage or surrounding parking lots.
It truly is the most wonderful time of year. Enjoying time with family and friends is important, so please share this information with your loved ones. We hope to see you at all of these great events in Sparks!
Do you have a tradition or favorite special event you attend during the holiday season? Please share your traditions by posting a comment.
Inaugural events are very challenging. There are many unknown factors. It is challenging to predict attendance forecasts, correct budgeting, what other events you will be competing with, and if the event will be a success.
October 30, 2015 – Nugget Brews & Boos
Last night was the inaugural Brews & Boos Beer Fest held at the Nugget Casino Resort in Sparks, Nevada. Forty-six breweries participated in the event. Approximately 800 guests were in attendance, which is great for a first-year event. Brews & Boos was competing with some heavy hitters around town including the Kevin Hart comedy show, Thunder from Down Under, and one of Reno’s premier Halloween events the 15th annual Wild Erotic Ball.
Brews & Boos Beer Fest started at 7:00 p.m. for VIP guests and 8:00 p.m. for general admission ticket holders. Event attendees wore costumes and went from table-to-table sampling seasonal and special brews. It felt like trick-or-treating for adults. The brew teams dressed up in costume and decorated their booths. Traveler Beer Company won the People’s Choice award for best beer. Drake’s Brewing Company won the best costume award, and Alaskan Brewing Company won for best booth display. The pumpkin contest was won by Pumpkin #6, which was carved to look just like a Volkswagen. The pumpkins were carved by Nugget employees for the annual employee pumpkin carving contest.
Snake Oil Sinners put on a rockin’ show! The band played for almost two and a half hours. They played covers from AC/DC, Ozzy, Van Halen, and my bosses personal favorite Led Zeppelin. The band was fantastic! The costumes were amazing and the crowd loved them. They were so good that people thought it was the DJ and that the band hadn’t started yet. Their performance was spot on! The artists were completely in character. A few guests found out who I was and they congratulated me on booking such great talent. They were really into it! A few brewers were begging me to book a similar act for Brew HaHa, which is a charity event we host in late January.
Photo Credit: Nugget Casino Resort Facebook Page
The beer festival also featured a costume contest. To qualify for the first round your costume had to be so good that we caught other event attendees asking for pictures. Guests had no idea how they qualified. We had a few employees observing and secret shopping the room to find out who the best of the best were. The finalists were then brought on stage and the winner was chosen by crowd applause. It was a tough competition but the creepy clown eked out a win.
I look forward to planning the 2nd annual Brews & Boos Beer Fest next year. The event was very popular for an inaugural event and I hope to see it become a premier Halloween event that attracts both tourists and local guests. I know all those in attendance this year had a great time. Special shout out and thanks to #TeamNugget. I work with amazing people! They held a Donald Trump campaign rally the day before and were able to flip the room in time for this spooktacular event. It was a huge accomplishment! Special thanks to the Wilbur D. May Museum for letting us borrow their Halloween decorations for the event in exchange for a donation. Community partnerships like this make Reno a great place and allow us to share our resources.
Happy Halloween to all! Hope to see thousands more at Brews & Boos 2016.
Like what you’ve seen? Subscribe to Mad About Events Blog by adding your email address to the form on the right. You’ll be the first to read about local events and get behind-scenes-stories about my life as a special events and entertainment director.
Craft beer is incredibly popular right now, and so are tribute bands. So we decided in honor of Halloween this year we would put them together and give Reno an unforgettable experience at Nugget Brews & Boos Beer Fest.
The event will be held on Friday, October 30th in the Nugget Ballroom. The rock show starts at 8:00 p.m. when Snake Oil Sinners band takes the stage. The band will perform everyone’s favorite big hair rock, melodic rock, metal and classic rock songs. This is no regular band, and you won’t want to miss a minute of their show when they perform hits from Def Leppard, Queen, Ozzy, Aerosmith, Guns & Roses, Journey and more.
There are 45 breweries participating in Brews & Boos Beer Fest as of right now. The number is subject to change up until the day of the event. There are different varieties of brew and a lot of brewers submitted fall and winter ales in hopes of winning the People’s Choice award. This time of year the Ciders are also a big fan favorite. Check out the event promo video and the list below to see if your favorite brewery will be featured at this year’s inaugural Brews & Boos Beer Fest.
Kudos to Nugget Special Event Coordinator Adam Varahachaikol for creating the promo video.
Alaskan Brewing Co.
American River Brewing Company
Anderson Valley Brewing Co.
Brooklyn Brewing Co.
Common Cider Company
Coronado Brewing Company
Corona and Modelo (Constellation Brand Beer)
Drake’s Brewing Company
Grand Teton Brewing Company
Great Basin Brewery
Hangar24 Craft Brewery
High Sierra Brewing
Lagunitas Brewing Company
Lake Tahoe Brewing Co
Leinenkugel Brewing Company
Lost Coast Brewery
Mammoth Brewing Company
Left Hand Brewing – Milk Stout Nitro
North American Breweries
Paulaner / Hacker Pschorr
Pizza Port Brewing Company
Rubicon Brewing Co.
Ruby Mountain Brewing Company
Tieton Cider Works · American Craft Cider
Track 7 Brewing Co.
Two Bald Guys Beverage Company
Under the Rose Brewing Co.
Vermont Hard Cider Co.
Purchase your tickets today at NuggetCasinoResort.com and get fired up for a new Halloween experience at Brews & Boos Beer Fest!
Things to know if you go…
Nugget Brews & Boos Beer Festival Friday, October 30, 2015 Nugget Ballroom VIP: $65 (allows guests to enter the event an hour early to have more time networking with brewers) General Admission: $50 Doors Open: 7pm for VIP, 8pm for General Admission Book a room by calling reservations at 775-356-3300 Buy tickets atNuggetCasinoResort.com
More than 500 hand carved pumpkins were lit up along the path through the May Center garden. There was trick-or-treating for kids and the event was part of the Teal Pumpkin Project, which is an awareness campaign to be sensitive to food allergies during Halloween trick-or-treating.
It was very obvious that the event is a big success and that this year the attendance increased dramatically. There were long lines, challenges with parking, and all the things you expect at a successful event with thousands of people.
The event took place Friday from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. I arrived at about 6:00 p.m. and got in the long line making a big circle in the grass area at the park. Security thought it would take about 20 – 30 minutes to get through line but it actually took a little over an hour. I’m not complaining though, standing in line was still entertaining.
There were lots of children and adults running around in costume and the people in line around me were friendly. I used the time to catch up with my friends and their adorable son who was dressed up as a tiger. I also enjoyed watching the families in line and guessing who would go into melt down mode first after standing in line, the parents or the kiddies. There are some really good parents out there that made it a positive experience for the kids in line and taught them about being patient.
Tickets were $5.00 per person and children under 2 entered the event for free. This made it a great family event on a Friday night. This is also why attendance jumped so much this year. According to the event’s Facebook page a little over 4,000 people attended the Pumpkin Walk. Unfortunately they only had enough candy for 1,500 kids trick-or-treating.
The pumpkin walk was great fun! The holiday decorations and the pumpkins all along the trail were spooktacular. The volunteers were all very friendly and so were most of the people attending the event. Fall is a great time in northern Nevada, the weather is usually decent and the trees are beautiful as the leaves change color. This event really adds to the fall experience and celebrating Halloween.
I expect this to become a family tradition event in Reno and to keep growing. It has a lot of potential! If the event is going to continue to grow they will need to make a few changes. Here is my unsolicited advice from one event planner to another…
• 2 Night Event
o Twice as much work, but the event has grown enough to warrant having a second night. The event should be held on both Friday and Saturday night. This should help increase the funds raised and enhance the experience for your guests and volunteers since it will spread the crowds out over two nights. You have a quality event with lots of demand, it needs an additional night so everyone can enjoy the experience and you can raise more money for your cause.
• Admission Pricing
o Raise the price to $7 – $10 per person. Then discount it to $5 per person if they donate a pumpkin.
• Pumpkins Galore
o Accept pumpkin donations on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday morning in exchange for discount tickets so you can switch out pumpkins that have started to spoil. This year it was about 90 degrees on event day, which is unseasonably warm for Reno. This caused the pumpkins to spoil faster. If I were a local company that owned a refer truck I would seriously consider donating it to the museum that week to help preserve the pumpkins. Having that truck parked right in front of the event is basically a big billboard for thousands of people to stare at while in line.
• Line Management
o A few volunteers need to direct the line better. This year the line made a big circle and then it crossed over the line again a few times because there were so many people in line and no volunteers were there directing the line. It was really hard to figure out where the end of the line was. Having someone direct the line so it snaked around more and didn’t make a big circle would help keep it moving faster. Keep the line to one side of the grass area though so the kids still have room to run and play. Seeing kids make new friends and letting them run around and play in their costumes made standing in line easier for all the parents out there.
This is a very unique and special event. It has the qualities that make a legacy event. I hope the Great May Center Pumpkin Walk continues to grow and that it becomes a family holiday tradition here in Reno. The volunteers and event planners did an amazing job. Kudos to the local children’s organizations that carved the hundreds of pumpkins for the Pumpkin Walk. I look forward to attending this event again next year and seeing how it grows over time.
The event is geared toward the beer enthusiast who wants to dress up and have a great time celebrating Halloween while sampling fall and winter brews. Each guest will be able to sample all the beer they can responsibly drink and take home a hauntingly cool commemorative cup.
We are expecting between 50 and 100 breweries to participate. The brewers will get into the Halloween spirit with costumes and Halloween-themed booths. This event is going to be a lot of fun because it will feel like trick or treating for beer when attendees go booth to booth sampling all the different brews. Finally trick-or-treating geared towards adults!
There will be a costume contest where guests will compete for best-dressed. There is a prize for attendees and a prize for brewers, so expect to see some over-the-top Halloween costumes at Brews & Boos.
The fun doesn’t stop with the beer tasting. The event will feature the ultimate rock show when the Snake Oil Sinners take the stage performing everyone’s favorite big hair rock, melodic rock, metal and classic rock songs. The band will perform the best rock songs from the ‘70s to the ‘90s. The artists honor the history of rock by wearing extravagant costumes while singing the smash hits from each rock genre. This is no regular band, and you won’t want to miss a minute of their show when they perform hits from Def Leppard, Queen, Ozzy, Aerosmith, Guns & Roses, Journey and more.
Doors open at 7:00 p.m. for the VIP ticket holders and 8:00 p.m. for general admission ticket holders. The Nugget doesn’t want anyone to drink and drive so there is a special $59 Take the Elevator Home room rate. We encourage everyone who attends Brews & Boos to get home safely or just stay the night at the Nugget.
Things to know if you go…
Nugget Brews & Boos Beer Festival Friday, October 30, 2015 Nugget Ballroom VIP: $65 (allows guests to enter the event an hour early to have more time networking with brewers) General Admission: $50 Doors Open: 7pm for VIP, 8pm for General Admission Book a room by calling reservations at 775-356-3300 Buy tickets at NuggetCasinoResort.com
Craft beer is incredibly popular right now, the growth is explosive. This is a new event that we hope is a big success. We believe that local beer enthusiasts and tourists alike will enjoy this event and make it a reason to come to Reno for Halloween every year. Please help us make this event a big success by purchasing your tickets today at NuggetCasinoResort.com.