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Mailbag leftover: Ranking the 20 best Northern Nevada events of the year

Great Reno Balloon
The Great Reno Balloon Race is an annual September tradition in Northern Nevada. (Chris Murray/NSN)

On occasion, a Monday Mailbag question requires too much research for me to include in the weekly feature, so I end up writing it separately as a "Mailbag leftover." I got such a question this week from Chris Swinger, who asked me to rank Northern Nevada's best annual events. Let's break them down.

Hopefully I didn't miss any events, but these are the top 20 that popped into my head.

20. Street Vibrations: I don't see the appeal of motorcycles revving through town for a week in September.

19. Reno Air Races: I've never been, out of fear a plane would crash on top of me, even though I know that's extremely unlikely.

18. Reno Santa Pub Crawl: The last time I attended this, I fell into the Eldorado water foundation, so #NeverAgain.

17. Great Eldorado BBQ, Brews and Blues Festival: Of the two major Eldorado events, I prefer the Italian Festival (because I'm half Italian).

16. Reno Rodeo: The skill level displayed at the rodeo is amazing, but I also can't help but think about the animals.

15. International Camel & Ostrich Races: "Bizarre yet wildly entertaining" is how Virginia City's website sums it up, and that's accurate.

14. Nevada Day Parade: A tradition unlike any other as politicians throw handfuls of candy at kids to get their parents' votes.

13. Reno Earth Day Celebration: This event, held at Idlewild Park, ranks in the top-five among events I've attended the most on this list.

12. Hot August Nights: I don't usually attend any of the Hot August Nights functions, but it's cool to see classic cars driving around town.

11. Barracuda Championship: Only 42 U.S. cities host a PGA Tour event every year, so it's cool Northern Nevada (OK, I guess Truckee these days) gets one of them.

10. The Eldorado Great Italian Festival: I've participated in the grape stomp before. It's good (not-so-clean) fun. And those mushroom raviolis? Chef's kiss.

9. Burning Man: I've never been to Burning Man, but I guess I can get behind a bunch of rich white people gathering in the middle of the desert to do drugs.

8. Reno River Festival: Kayaking isn't my sport, but watching those who excel in it and do flips in the water in downtown Reno is legit.

7. Artown: This is a tricky one because Artown is a monthly series, so it's not really one event like the rest on this list. But it's in the top 10 for sure.

6. Carson Valley Days: The best damn roving carnival you'll find in Northern Nevada in one of the best parks in the Western U.S. (Lampe Park).

5. Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off: The ribs are messy. The weather is blistering. And the crowds are huge. But it's a must hit every year nonetheless.

4. Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival: Sand Harbor is one of the most scenic places in the world, and the quality of show the Shakespeare group puts on is top notch.

3. American Century Championship: Where else will you get to see Justin Timberlake, Charles Barkley, Steph Curry, Aaron Rodgers, Patrick Mahomes and Kevin from The Office at the same place?

2. Genoa Candy Dance Arts & Crafts Faire: I don't know how many folks from Reno attend this, but the two-day event has more than 300 arts and crafts, activity and food vendor booths sitting at the base of the Carson Range.

1. Great Balloon Race: There aren't many things that will cause me to get up at 3 a.m., but the Great Balloon Race's Dawn Patrol is one of them. It's my favorite event of the year.

Columnist Chris Murray provides insight on Northern Nevada sports. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter @ByChrisMurray.

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