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Pahrump Valley Days given the go-ahead despite pushback from chamber of commerce

Can the town of Pahrump’s businesses and residents sustain two large-scale community events held within five weeks of each other?

That was the question for debate during the Nye County Commission’s Sept. 15 meeting, when VinoJazz Foundation co-founder Doug Dubin went before the commission with a request for a festival permit for a brand new event set to make its debut in Feb. 2021, Pahrump Valley Days.

Despite concerted pushback by the Pahrump Valley Chamber of Commerce, which argued that Dubin’s festival would interfere with the success of the chamber’s own Balloon Festival set to take place in March 2021, VinoJazz was ultimately granted its festival license. Now, Dubin and his partners are forging forth with their plans in anticipation of bringing the town its first large public event since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in Nevada.

“VinoJazz Foundation, in partnership with Shop Local Pahrump, the Pahrump Valley Junior High and High School Rodeo Club and Pahrump - Moving Forward, we’re excited about the opportunity to have the rodeo, carnival, vendors, barbecue competition, music, corn hole and horseshoe competition, car show and art demonstration, just to name a few,” Dubin detailed at the Sept. 15 meeting. “It’s going to be a great opportunity. We are thrilled to be able to promote this event.”

Dubin and his partner Hunter DeMarais, of Pahrump - Moving Forward, noted that they had created the event for two main reasons. One was to help small and medium-sized businesses by giving them a chance to exhibit their goods and services and raise awareness as well as revenue. The other centered around the high school rodeo club, which was originally set to hold a key rodeo over the weekend of Feb. 18-21 during what was originally supposed to be the dates for the chamber’s Balloon Festival. However, after the chamber made the decision to move its Balloon Festival out a month due to the uncertain weather that February tends to present, Dubin and DeMarais stepped in to offer to host the inaugural Pahrump Valley Days festival to coincide with the high school rodeo instead.

The Pahrump Valley Chamber of Commerce made an effort to convince the Nye County Commission to deny the request for the festival permit, with chamber officials arguing that they felt that having two large-scale festivals within five weeks of each other would put unnecessary strain on local businesses.

“We only have a limited number of businesses that can sponsor large events of this type, even under normal circumstances, let alone in the face of a pandemic. Which begs the question, should we, each of us here today, be concerned about the financial burden being created for our businesses? Do we really want to place them into the unfortunate position of having to choose which event to support, if either?” Pahrump Valley Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Officer Jenney Sartin stated. “It’s not that the town cannot support multiple events, it can, it has and it will. However, the issue is not that. The issue is not the event itself. The issue is simply that the event dates are too close to another event in the community, which is the Pahrump Balloon Festival.”

When Sartin’s three minutes for public comment were up, chamber events coordinator Donna Corey took over, reiterating Sartin’s points.

“It’s going to cause quite a problem for our sponsors, our vendors and for the community as a whole, who has to be able to put aside money to be able to purchase carnival tickets and be able to go to a rodeo. We want them to be able to have a rodeo, it’s just that the date that they are asking for creates such a problem for this established festival,” Corey stated.

Dubin and DeMarais seemed to find this argument lacking in merit. “I think assuming that it’s going to put a strain on entrepreneurs, who can make their own adult decisions about what they want to participate in, should have no bearing on this,” DeMarais responded.

When it came to questions from the commissioners, Leo Blundo made sure to inquire what plans Dubin and DeMarais had in the event that COVID-19 is still a major concern come Feb. 2021.

Hunter DeMarais said the group would hope in that case that the commission would not revoke its event permit but would allow it to go forward with certain health and safety measures in place. “We would require additional protection by each booth owner, which would be some kind of vapor barrier such as Plexiglas… If they are food vendors, they would have to have shields in the front. All vendors would have to be wearing masks. We would have a clean-up or sanitizing procedure that we would actually require them to do and we propose every hour that we can go by and they would have a form to fill out, to make sure they are conforming,” DeMarais said.

Nye County Commissioner Debra Strickland then emphasized that the group would need to be sure they provide a hold-harmless agreement to the county, so that Nye County would not be liable in the event there is any issue with OSHA, and DeMarais said that would not be a problem at all.

As the item approached its conclusion, Blundo told his fellow commissioners he was conflicted on the matter and did not want to get in the middle of the two organizations and their debate over dates. “I want to give an opportunity to let them all figure it out before we get involved so I am going to make a motion to continue this to the next meeting,” Blundo said.

That motion failed for lack of a second and was quickly followed by a motion to approve by Strickland.

Commissioner Donna Cox then jumped in to add her thoughts. “I believe in free enterprise, I believe in freedom of choice and I think the people involved in this can choose to support one organization or the other, or both! It’s their pocketbook… Hopefully they will support both,” Cox said. “I am very thankful we have both and I don’t see any reason why there wouldn’t be room for both, even if they were a week apart. They are two totally different events.”

Strickland concurred with Cox’s view, stating that she thought the town could support an event of this type every month, so long as, “…we don’t get ridiculous with our sponsorship packages.”

The motion to approve the festival permit passed with all in favor.

Needless to say, Dubin was very pleased with the commission’s decision to grant the festival permit request, telling the Pahrump Valley Times following the meeting that he was more than excited to bring a new tradition to town. He directed anyone interested in learning more about the event to visit the newly created website at PahrumpValleyDays.com or call 775-537-5515.

Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at rhebrock@pvtimes.com

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