By Selwyn Harris
Roughly one month after its official grand opening coming up in April, the Pahrump Fairgrounds will hold its inaugural event.
Town officials say it is expected to attract visitors and tourists by the hundreds over Memorial Day weekend.
Town Board members heard a presentation Tuesday evening from Dirk Schmidhofer, who is seeking a permit to hold a regional “Burning Man” festival on the far south end of town.
For those not familiar with the event, Burning Man is a world-renowned annual event held in the Reno area that promotes freedom of expression, a collaboration of innovative art projects, a wide variety of music, entertainment, theme camps, and mutant vehicles. Town Board Chair Harley Kulkin said that the fairgrounds would be an excellent location for a version of the popular annual event unique to the Silver State.
“At our next town board meeting, there will be a presentation for a regional ‘Burning Man’ event here which will possibly be during the last weekend in May here. From what I hear, there are a lot of people in town that are very excited about that. Everybody has heard about the Burning Man event up north but to have something in town so they can actually see what it is will be great. It’s a paid event and they will have security, so you just can’t walk into it so it should be pretty exciting. I’m looking forward to possibly bringing my RV over here and checking it out,” Kulkin said.
The regional Burning Man event is a precursor to the main event held each year in northern Nevada’s Black Rock Desert where tens of thousands of attendees gather for a week to celebrate life, respect each other, the land they inhabit, and the spirit that is created there.
According to the official website, the experience can be quite “powerful” and trying to explain what it is, is similar to trying to explain what a particular color looks like to someone who is blind.
“The Burning Man transformation can be very intense for its participants, and the regional events act as a mini-session to lead into the magical experience,” the site stated.
Kulkin said the event and all of the peripherals can boost the local economy.
“It will bring a lot of tourists to town spending money and that’s what we are all hoping for. We spent some money out there and now we want to start making it pay off. We are definitely going to hold more things out there. We also want to improve the property so we can expand the scope of what we have out there,” he said.
Town Board member Dr. Tom Waters said though he’s not very familiar with the event, he said the idea of the fairgrounds hosting the festival would be good for the community.
He also said the participants are very environmentally sensitive.
“From what I’ve heard, it also brings in a lot of people and they always leave the area the way they found it. Some of the things are pretty impressive and I want to hear more of what the organizers say about it. I’m not opposed to it and I’m not entirely sold on it. I just want to know more. If it brings a lot of people in, I don’t see how it could hurt us,” he said.
The agenda’s backup also provided the board more information about the cost of the event.
“A two-tier ticket pricing system will be applied, with tickets costing $40 and $65. Attendance is currently anticipated to be capped at 450 participants. Ticket price objectives are targeted to be low enough for participation of all who care to, yet hopefully will sustain the ability to donate back to the Burner and local community.”
Also on the agenda, board members will discuss the possible approval of naming fields one and two at Ian Deutch Memorial Park to honor the memory of longtime Pahrump resident Ron Floyd, who recently passed away.
Waters said he would no doubt support that item.
“When you look at the fact that Honeysuckle Park was created and established by Mr. Floyd, we probably should have named the entire field for him but since it is already Ian Deutch, I certainly would not change the name. To name two fields after Ron Floyd I think is the right thing to do,” he said.
Board members also discussed placing new fairgrounds signs on the property along Highway 160 and on Gamebird Road at the Fox Avenue entrance and partnering with Nye County to provide water, power and sewage disposal at the site.
Due to time constraints, the decision on the action items will appear in Friday’s edition of the Pahrump Valley Times.