Pahrump Historical Museum Director Marilyn Davis is urging local families to “own a little piece of history” when the annual Fall Festival returns next week.
For the first time, the museum will participate in the parade portion of the four-day event.
But unlike other entrants who toss candy to those lining the route, the museum has something different in mind, as volunteers will hand out cotton seeds, urging local residents to grow their own personal cotton patch.
“Our garden club grows cotton for us every year in our little cotton patch and we have volunteers who are taking the cotton, pulling the seeds out of it and we will be passing the cotton seeds out to the children at the Fall Festival parade where we encourage them to grow their own piece of history,” Davis said. “It’s a lot of work and very time-consuming but they enjoy doing it.”
Davis said the group preferred cotton over candy, while hoping the event will attract more visitors to the museum.
Obviously, cotton candy is a big part of the Fall Festival’s carnival.
“This is our first time doing this so we’ll see how it goes,” she said. “We didn’t want to give out candy. We just thought this would be something that’s nice and new and different and hopefully get people to come to the museum and get kids interested in the museum and Nevada history.”
Though the labor appeared tedious, the volunteers, from Pahrump’s Fifth District Specialty Court, were having a great time working off their community service hours.
Jennifer Wheetley was responsible for dreaming up the idea.
“I was thinking this would make the kids get more involved and that would make the parents want to get more involved,” she said. “It might also get them interested in coming to the museum. Passing out the cotton seeds will hopefully make the kids want to grow it. I think it’s neat because I’m a big kid myself.”
Extracting the seed, which is roughly the size of a cherry pit is more time-consuming than difficult.
Elizabeth Donnelly is working off roughly 20 hours of community service.
“I love this because it’s my favorite place to go to do my community service,” she said. “I have to put 20 hours in per week until I get a job. It’s a lot of fun and a great learning experience. This is the first time in my life I’ve ever done something like this.”
Sharie Lewis also waxed poetically about the experience.
“I really love working here because we do hard work and we get a little relaxing work like this,” she said. “We all get to sit around and talk and develop relationships while we do our work and we also get to learn a lot here. I have never learned so much just doing volunteer work in my life.”
Aside from their cotton-picking work, the group will also perform community service while at the Fall Festival.
Davis said much of the work will involving helping with the setup and takedown.
“They are here doing their volunteer work and they are required to do so many hours every week and we were lucky enough that Judge Kim Wanker has allowed them to come and help at the museum,” she said. “They have been doing all sorts of fun things like cleaning and of course pulling the cotton seeds. They’re not only performing their volunteer work but they’re also learning about Nevada history and I don’t think you could ask for a better work environment.”
Davis also noted though the museum is facing some tough challenges as of late, she’s grateful visitor counts have been on a steady rise.
She noted more and more local residents are cottoning to the idea of visiting the facility.
“We are open Tuesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and we’re getting more and more visitors,” she said. “Last year I had over 6,000 visitors and I have them from every single state and lots of different countries from around the world but I like getting the kids from here. We get home schoolers and every year in the spring we get a group of first graders from Floyd Elementary School. They put the entire first grade class on a bus and they bring them here and it’s a lot of fun and they get to learn and they seem to enjoy it.”
Additionally, Davis said cotton, properly attended to, thrives in the Pahrump’s desert climate.
“Actually, cotton grows very well in this climate,” she said. “People grew cotton here in the valley until 1981 and there was actually a cotton gin, which was the only one in Nevada and that was where the Pahrump Nugget is right now.”
The Pahrump Fall Festival kicks off next Thursday at 5 p.m.
The Pahrump Historical Museum is located at 401 East Basin Ave.
Admission is free and donations are greatly appreciated.