Sunday, October 11, 2009

Costumers and Historians: Welcome to the Silver State

Reno, Nevada, is an interesting place. In the minds of the non-Nevadan public, it has always been a place of, how shall I say, ill-repute. Gambling and prostitution are legal here, as well as quick-hitches and even quicker divorces. Reno is a place that could be and once was a little dirty, a little dangerous, and we don't mean just the dusty desert and the rattlesnakes.

A Stage and Four-in-Hand at the Carson City Rendezvous

It is a unique place, where rodeos, rib cook-offs, and rendezvous all happen within weeks of each other. Classic cars share downtown Virginia Street with 300 head of Herefords (though not on the same weekend!). It's what people don't know about Reno that keeps this little town the best kept secret: a thriving arts community, huge farmers markets with live music and craft vendors, motorcycle and big-rig hot rod festivals, kayak competitions, hot air balloon invasions, and vintage airplane races. That's just the tip of the iceberg.

The Great Reno Balloon Races

Northern Nevada is also rich in history, with its own, less-known silver rush, known better as The Comstock Lode. Nevada had its own hand in the Civil War, and quite a large role in the settling of the West. Native American cultures intersect with classic Old West histories, which intersect with Asian-American pasts, and somewhere in there is the transcontinental railroad!

Virginia City, center of the Comstock Lode, near Reno

So why, oh WHY, is there no outlet for Reno's love of its own history here in the Great Basin? Why are we still driving to the Bay Area to attend their dances, their fairs, and their picnics? I say we have our OWN!

The Great Basin Costume Society will be a club organization dedicated to holding events that celebrate this forgotten place. We will organize picnics, fairs, dances, socials, museum visits, workshops, and so many more FUN things to do, as a way of indulging our obsessive costuming habits, and also enjoying the historical attractions and festivals in the Reno area.

Elizabeth Rowell, 1936, working the Reno Rodeo

We may be small to start, but we hope to one day draw a hearty membership, and provide community-based activities that everyone can enjoy! Look for future articles and posts on all sorts of things!

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  1. Good Luck Lauren. My wife and I moved from Reno to Phoenix 8 years ago with every intention on moving back after my wife graduated school. We fell in love with Az and stayed. So, I know first hand what you mean about having to travel to the Bay area to enjoy costumes/reenacting. I wish you all the best. We have family still in Reno. We have not visited them in years, but have often talked about it. It would be grand to see you have some success with your endeavors in the biggest little city in the world. If you have not yet, I suggest you check out the site for an organization out here called "We Make History". My wife and I only participate in the 18th century events as that is enough for us, but they also have Victorian dances as well as a barnyard pioneer style dance. Maybe it will give you some ideas or inspire you. The website is . Check it out. I am new to blogging, but you can also check out my blog at . Again, best of luck to you. GO RENO!

  2. Hi, thanks so much for dropping by! I will definitely check out the We Make History site, to see how others have accomplished these things not-in-the-Bay. I have a really good feeling about all this, and can't wait to get started with the planning and promoting.

    And for just me, it's fantastic to see another 18th c blog coming to life! I also run an 18th c costume blog called "American Duchess." I will add you to my blogroll!

  3. Wow! It's fab to see this amazing place I keep hearing about, Elle. I have joined up - in hopes that one day I'll be over your side of the world.

  4. Well likewise, FJ! As the society grows, we may be hosting charter trips to various places of history and awesome, such as Scotland :-)