Once again, it’s midsummer. From August 2 – August 4, Lovelock Frontier Days will fill the courthouse park with song and celebration. The festivities last from dawn until past dusk.
The temperature may climb, but elms offer shade – and the community pool beckons.
“Bring a chair and stay the weekend,” says Marianne Papa, a longtime board member. This year Frontier Days celebrates Pershing County’s 100th birthday.
On March 18, 1919, Pershing County came into the world, named after US Army General Joseph J. Pershing (1860-1948).
Behind his back, Pershing’s West Point cadets called him “Black Jack.” Pershing embraced the nickname and it stuck for the rest of his life. It’s even memorialized by a sign hanging over the ruins of a gas station on Lovelock’s main drag.
The men did not bestow the nickname on their drill instructor as a compliment. Annoyed by Pershing’s strictness, they mocked his former command of the “Buffalo Soldiers.” Originally they used a harsh two-syllable word in place of “black.”
Black soldiers fought in segregated troops from 1866 until 1951. Native Americans thought their hair looked like a bison’s coat and named them accordingly.
Lovelock’s early movers and shakers cabled Pershing to ask if they could give their county his name. He gave his permission, and set off to the Western Front. President Woodrow Wilson chose Pershing to lead the WWI American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) in Europe.
With military precision, the Frontier Days Parade starts on Saturday at 10 a.m. at the community center, and heads to the courthouse park. Traditionally, participants decorate their vehicles according to an old western theme. A few stalwarts don pioneer dress. Horses join the merriment. Wells Fargo sends a stagecoach.
In keeping with the centennial theme, Tom and Darlene Moura lead the march as Grand Marshals. Their 102-year-old Moura Ranch recently won the Nevada Centennial Ranch and Farm Award. At the park, festival goers will find a smorgasbord of activities.
There will be feats of strength like Sunday’s tractor pull with separate categories for men, women and children. Once the tractor pullers relax, the Lovelock Volunteer Fire Department will host a bike race down Elmhurst Avenue.
Lovelock’s DC Red leads the live entertainment line-up with a blend of hip-hop, rap and metal on Friday at 5 p.m.
The Comstock Sweetheart, Makayla Taylor, follows at 6 p.m. with country classics along the lines of Patsy Cline. The Sierra Sweethearts play at 8 p.m. The four-woman bluegrass band specializes in harmonies and instrumentals on the fiddle, banjo, mandolin, guitar and bass.
On Saturday, Arizona Jones takes to stage at 5 p.m. The group promises to put a rock spin on rhythm and blues hits from the sixties and seventies. Silverwing follows at 8 p.m. They describe themselves as a “rocking country band,” that plays both current and classic tunes.
DC Red came of age at the annual extravaganza, now poised at the threshold of its 51st season.
“Growing up in Lovelock, Frontier Days is the one thing I looked forward to every year,” he says. “It was always on my mind to perform in front of my home town, whether they like me or not; whether they like the music or not.”
Last summer, he got his wish. The audience responded to his music, so he’s back again by popular demand.
“I’ve been able to reach many people through my music,” he says. “My goal has always been to inspire.”
Frontier Days spills out of the park to other Lovelock locales. There will be dirt track racing at the Lovelock Speedway on Friday and Saturday. A few kids will ride off on brand new bicycles.
On Saturday at noon, the Eagles sponsor a Quarter Dive at the community pool. The Frontier Community Coalition sponsors a free swim from 4 p.m. until 6 p.m. on Sunday.
General Pershing, by all accounts a dashing figure, might have enjoyed the horseshoe tournament. It takes place at Candy Beach on Saturday.
Call 775-442-1336 for more information.
Also see lovelockfrontierdays.com