Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Genoa Cowboy Poetry 2011

Big beer delivery to Nevada's oldest saloon in Genoa
When we arrive at our Virginia City B&B our innkeepers hand us a brochure for the Genoa Cowboy Poetry Festival. What? Another Cowboy Festival? Sheesh! Wasn't one enough? Should we go? Is this serendipity? Or redundancy?

Browsing the Genoa Cowboy Poetry Festival schedule, I see they have a stellar lineup of musicians, including my personal fave Dave Stamey. They also have re-enactors: Don Thompson as Snowshoe Thompson, Dick Clark as Kit Carson, Mike Curcio as Wyatt Earp, etc. They offer fun activities like a Carson River Bird Walk, a saddle making seminar and lots on poetry and writing. Then I see that Mark Twain will be there on the very morning we are due to head back to the San Francisco Bay Area. If we go via the old stagecoach route we will pass through Genoa. That settles it! We're going.

On Friday 6 May we take our leave of our wonderful innkeepers and bid farewell to Virginia City. On the way out of town we take the alternate Truck Road down to Carson City. It's beautiful and deserted. We've had superb weather for our sojourn and timed it just right. (Within days it will be snowing again.)

Genoa is a beautiful little town snuggled at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains. We arrive to see lots of cowboy types, Civil War soldiers and women in hoop skirts. And MARK TWAIN! "Stop the Jeep! I have to get out!" I run up to him and tell him I've come all the way from England to see him. And I have.  One of the organizers snaps a picture of us. Then I run to buy the three of us a day pass. $50! Just to hear Mark Twain?

Mary & her derringer
It is totally worth it. McAvoy Layne is a re-enactor who channels Mark Twain. His talk is perfect for us, all about his stagecoach trip west and Mono Lake and Virginia City and all the places we've been visiting. I'm especially impressed that Layne doesn't just quote Roughing It, but has read Twain's letters, too. I will definitely be following him and make a note to visit his Mark Twain Center in Incline Village, Lake Tahoe.

But our $50 family day pass has bought us more than McAvoy Layne as Mark Twain. It gets us two free carriage rides with Buddy from Happy Hoofers in Washoe Valley, who tells me he knows exactly where Steamboat Springs is. It gets us an audience with Wrangler Rich who has a ranch near Carson and promises he'll take us on horseback up into the mountains. We make notes to see Steamboat Springs with Buddy and go riding with Wrangler Rich on our next trip. Maybe the Nevada Gunfighters, too!

The family day pass gets us into the delightful little Genoa museum with it's mock-up of a jail and also of a recorder's office.

Santa Clarita didn't allow guns
Best of all our day pass gets us into the COWBOY FAST DRAW where we meet the fast draw champions of Nevada and get to practice firing real six shooters! At the Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival, the only person allowed a proper pistol was Joey Dillon. Folk resorted to using their holsters for sunblock!

But here in Nevada everybody is packing heat, from Mary with her derringer to the Nevada Gunmen. Anyway, the fast draw guys let us shoot at targets with wax filled Colt Peacemaker .45 caliber cartridges. Yee-haw! It is so much fun. My best time is just over a second. I can do even better but it only counts if you hit the target. The real experts aim for half a second! My mentor is "Chisum" but there are some other fast-drawers there including one who is the spitting image of John Wayne. Imagine getting snapped with "Mark Twain" & "John Wayne" in one morning.

I will definitely be back for the Genoa Cowboy Poetry Festival next year. Hopefully with the first Western Mystery, The Case of the Deadly Desperados.

some great living history re-enactors at Genoa

Nevada gunmen enjoy a beverage

Wrangler Rich and his quarterhorse

Buddy gave us rides in his "vis-a-vis" buggy

"Goes the Wrong Way" & "Hawkeye"

Main Street Genoa Cowboy Poetry Festival May 2011

Buddy drops us at the fab Cowboy Fast Draw

My mentor is "Chisum"
At first "Hawkeye" is unsure...

...but then she finds the fun in Cowboy Fast Draw. Yee-haw!
Nevada champ "Short Keg" Gentry shows "Goes" the ropes

I meet "John Wayne".  My joy is complete.

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