Nevada Appeal at 150: July 7, 1974: Rowdiness, drunkenness may kill famous Virginia City camel races

July 7, 1974: Rowdiness, drunkenness may kill famous Virginia City camel races

The camels may be coming to Virginia City for the last time this year, if problems connected with the world famous Virginia City Camel Races cannot be solved.

Scott Sappenfield, president of the Virginia City Chamber of Commerce, appeared before the Storey County Commission to discuss problems that have surfaced during past camel races and possible solutions to those problems.

Sappenfield said drinking is probably the biggest problem encountered during the Labor Day weekend affair, and that more information on the ordinances against drinking on the streets in Virginia City might help the situation. Although Storey County Sheriff Bob Del Carlo said he has posted more than 250 notices around the Comstock community during past races they do not help the situation, and seem to disappear during the first day of the races. Del Carlo said he is open to any suggestions on controlling crowds during the races, and noted that he is out of ideas.

Part of the problem is the type of person that has come to the annual races during the past several years. “They’re a different breed of cat,” Del Carlo says.

He says people come to the races with little or no respect for those who live in Virginia City. Last year’s races netted more than 60 people for violations of drinking ordinances, disturbing the peace, disorderly conduct, vandalism and lewd acts. If he had more deputies, Del Carlo estimate he could have arrested more than 400 persons.

County officials realize the economic potential and impact the annual races have on businesses in Virginia City, but are also concerned with the trespass on citizen rights that goes on with visiting automobiles parking in yards, blocking driveways and with a general disturbance of the peace.

“The sheriff’s department is going to fill its jail again this year,” Del Carlo said. He also said his department is going to work with the businessmen, but is going to be strict in enforcing county ordinances during the affair.

While county officers try to make a determination about possible solutions to the many problems that have grown out of the camel races, they will also consider what is to be done in the future.

This continues the Appeal’s review of news stories and headlines during its Sesquicentennial year.


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