By Selwyn Harris
The expression on Pahrump Town Manager Bill Kohbarger’s face this week said it all.
There was satisfaction, exhilaration, and relief about the close of the 2012 Pahrump Fall Festival.
On Monday, Kohbarger said this year’s turnout truly exceeded his expectations in light of the short time frame the town had to organize the event.
“We estimated on Saturday that more than 12,000 people were in the park throughout the whole day and at any given time it was up to 6,000 people in the park between 7:30 and 10:30 p.m. I did not know what we were going to get into. We put a lot of hours into this event and it was the town staff and many volunteers who really made this thing happen. They did a phenomenal job,” he said.
The town manager noted that the festival played host to more than 100 vendors during the four-day event.
He also said the rodeo and carnival portion did extremely well.
“The rodeo had 600 ticket sales on Friday and 1,000 on Saturday. The carnival was very successful over the course of the festival. Pre-ticket sales were $2,518 and that was in five weeks time. Last year the ticket sales in 16 weeks were $2,532 so we just missed that by $14, but we only had a quarter of the time to sell than what they did. Davis Amusements, which put on the carnival, said they grossed about $135,000. I’m not sure of the final numbers just yet but the town will make a profit,” he said.
On Sunday, Davis Amusements Game Line Manager Casey See noted that visitor volume seemed to have increased in the late afternoon hours of the festival.
“It started out slow because of the heat so we opened up a little later. Friday night was real good. Saturday after the parade and all through the evening was real good. People here were really enjoying themselves on the rides. I think it was better than last year,” he said.
It takes roughly two days to get the entire carnival ready for action.
Dozens of employees each have a specific job to perform, whether it involves assembling the rides or setting up the midway.
Local resident Kyle Kelly has work for about a year with Davis and said he loves his job and he doesn’t mind being called a “Carney.”
“It’s fun and being a carney is awesome. I recommend it to everyone. I find that being called a carney is a compliment,” he said.
Kelly, who works the basketball-shooting booth along the midway said contrary to some beliefs, the games are fair and square.
“The hoops are not smaller and the balls are standard size. I handed out a lot of prizes yesterday. You just gotta know how to shoot,” he said with a laugh.
Another carney named Kathrine Spiva has been employed with Davis for close to three years.
Spiva, who is a 16-year resident, said she loves just about every aspect of the job.
“It’s a great job where you can see new places. I’ve been to Oregon and Washington and just being able to see that is amazing. The only downfall is that I can’t take my young daughter with me,” she said.
Pahrump Town Board Chair Vicky Parker, who along with others worked tirelessly in getting the festival up and running this year did have at least one minor — and humorous — complaint.
Parker mentioned that a pet goat being paraded around by its owner actually bit her official festival T-shirt and attempted to chew on it.
Otherwise, she noted that the festival was a total success.
“I thought that it was awesome. It was a huge crowd and I thought it was an absolutely great fall festival. We have to thank the town staff. They are exhausted and I am too. We managed to raise over 200 carnival and rodeo tickets for the less privileged children in town. When Davis carnival found out what we were doing, they gave us another 50 tickets. That’s not bad for a last minute first year effort on my part,” she said.
Parker also clarified an issue with vendor fees who set up shop at the event.
Parker said the Pahrump Alliance for Valley Economic Development PAVED , who operated the festival for the last two years, returned fees to local vendors who applied for booth space but was not so trustworthy to out-of-town vendors.
Two vendors who had already paid PAVED but didn’t receive refunds were given free booth space by the town.
One woman, Parker said, complained very loudly at the Pahrump town office while waving her application.
One vendor selling Indian Tacos remarked that PAVED charged him $350 for his booth space last year along with $50 for each electrical connection.
By contrast, this year he paid just $150 including all electrical hookups to the town.
Town officials also decided to keep local candidates operating their respective political booths away from the main vendor areas located around the baseball field.
Parker noted that the town wanted to spare anyone who didn’t want to hear about politics from enjoying the festival.
The Local 4-H organization had a very large presence just outside the vendor area.
Bradyn Shenberger and his rabbit Aries have visited many fairs and festivals over the years.
Shenberger has won dozens of ribbons with his rabbits. Aries is a white Mini Rex who happens to be his favorite.
He said the Mini Rex is known for its dense velvet plush fur.
“This type of rabbit is good for people who have allergies because these rabbits do not shed. The fur comes in all colors and the rabbit grows to 3.5 to 4.5 pounds when fully grown,” he said.
Shenberger owns about 35 rabbits and he breeds them for various shows.
It’s unknown if her goat was the same one that introduced itself to Vicky Parker but Daven Scronce raises competition goats. She loves animals. The goats she brought to the fair are meat goats, which means some day they will land on someone’s dinner table. She is ok with that.
“The meat is quite tasty on a goat. It is leaner than cow and much healthier than cow to eat,” said Scronce. Scronce knows what she is talking about. She also showed cattle at the fair where she took first place in the market division and second in the showmanship. She said she has raised goats for nine years and finds them very personable. “They are very friendly and very fun when they have babies.”
Yet another popular 4-H event was the Chicken Poop Bingo.
Pam Gatling, 4-H coordinator, said the contest is a very popular game that has run for the past several years at the festival.
The money raised from the game goes to a very worthy cause. “All proceeds from the game go to helping 4-H kids go to camp up in Lake Tahoe area during the summer. The game is quite simple. It actually should be called Chicken Poop Keno for it is actually closer to that game. People interested in playing the game simply choose a number on a board. Each number costs $2 and then the board with the numbers gets slid under the chicken and when the chicken poops on a number that is the winner,” said Gatling.
Kohbarger, who made all of the rounds during the festival said that numerous vendors and fairgoers approached he and other town staff to express their appreciation in making the event a success.
“Everybody seemed to enjoy themselves and I had at least 17 people and I know that for a fact because I counted and they said thank you for putting on the fall festival. They were all citizens,” he said.
He also wanted to mention that there just a few people who were not entirely pleased with some aspects of the festival.
“I went around on Saturday and Sunday morning and I met with each and every vendor and only got two negative comments. One person said that they didn’t like the area of their booth, but they liked the festival.
“Another one was upset because there were two other people who were selling exactly what she was selling and she was not happy. Overall I thought it was an extreme success and there was just a lot of people who contributed to that success,” he said.
Reporter Vern Hee and Senior Staff Writer Mark Waite contributed to this story.