Genoa to stir up a sweet batch of black ink |

Genoa to stir up a sweet batch of black ink

Pat Patera

How many towns can rake in nearly 90 percent of the annual operating budget by throwing one big blow-out block party? Genoa, situated in the Sierra foothills, can and does with the annual Candy Dance, says Mike Brown, town manager.

The take comes from booth fees of $260 to $400 charged to about 300 vendors.

The resultant shopping spree draws up to 70,000 visitors who book every room and RV parking spot in the Carson Valley.Many simply drive over from Sacramento for the day.

When the tourists go, they leave behind about $150,000.

The town uses the money to fix roads, clear snow,maintain parks, restore historic buildings, and pay staff, says Brown.

Street fairs full of vendors are a dime a dozen during the summer in Reno.

But in Genoa a juried panel comprised of locals with expertise in antiques,woodworking, quilting and other crafty arts ensures that only unique wares are offered.Vendors from all over the West compete to come sell, says Brown.No mere sales reps are allowed; the actual creator must be present in the booth to talk to the tourists.

The event grew so successful in recent years that the burgeoning number of booths threatened to crowd the tourists right out of town.

Home to a mere 300 souls and only a couple blocks across,Genoa simply wasn’t big enough to accommodate more than 329 street booths.

The Candy Dance Committee,with about 300 members, plans the event.

That’s pretty much the whole town, says Brown.

In addition to putting on the festival and the Saturday night dance, the Genoa ladies make sweets to sell.

The 85th annual event happens the weekend of Sept.

24-25,when the population of Douglas County will double for two days.