Fallon Cantaloupe Festival & Country Fair
Dating all the way back to 1911, Fallon’s lasting love for locally renowned Hearts of Gold Cantaloupes has turned into the longest food and drink festival in Nevada. Sitting thousands of feet lower in elevation than the Reno area makes Fallon an agricultural hotspot for the Reno-Tahoe region, with some of the best produce, meat and dairy, and award-winning grain-to-glass estate distilled spirits, though the heralded juicy, always-flavorful Hearts of Gold Cantaloupe may be Fallon’s crown jewel. It’s certainly been around long enough, with substantial muskmelon production grown in Fallon, then shipped to the East predating the Great Depression. Today, this weekend-long festivity celebrates these specialty Fallon cantaloupes with all kinds of cantaloupe treats—from shakes, to ice cream, to juicy slices with decadent toppings and beyond—along with live local entertainment, carnival rides, livestock exhibits, and plenty of vendors and fair food treats.
Perfect growing conditions await an hour east of Reno within the Lahontan Valley and Churchill County, which made growing this specialized strain of cantaloupe so possible for places as far reaching as the East coast. The hard rind of the Hearts of Gold Cantaloupe made it ideal for cross-country train transportation, and made the high price per crate worth the risk to Fallon-area farmers. During and after the Great Depression, the beloved Hearts of Gold disappeared almost entirely, replaced with more stable products like alfalfa.
But, all thanks to a group of six Chinese immigrant families in the Fallon area, this specialty cantaloupe strain remained alive, reviving its vine back to former glory. By 1985, more crops had stabilized and a group of Fallon-area farmers saw the opportunity to bring back the Hearts of Gold to original large-scale production. The “Golden Return” was the impetus of what has become one of Fallon’s greatest home-grown events, celebrating the northern Nevada agricultural scene while bringing family fun and excitement to locals and visitors alike, each and every harvest season.