August 2017 - Horse Races & Fair Eclipse Weekend

Ely, Nevada, combines western traditions with solar eclipse celebration.

One of the most authentic western celebrations in the U.S. gets a celestial twist for 2017, lining up with the solar eclipse on Aug. 21.

Each year horse racing, a county fair and other traditional events dating back almost 100 years bring together neighbors and visitors alike in the remote town of Ely, Nevada. This year, the festivities planned Aug. 18-21 include a solar eclipse train ride on the historic Nevada Northern Railway, offering a unique glimpse into this rare event. In celebration of the eclipse, Ely’s Economy Drug luncheonette will be serving a special Light-to-Dark-to-Light eclipse sandwich.

“White Pine County is a place where tradition is part of day-to-day life, and this weekend is a celebration of our tradition and our community,” said Ely Mayor Melody VanCamp. “Adding the solar eclipse this year just makes the festivities extra special.”

The White Pine Horse Races are the biggest event in the county – a tradition that attracts thousands of people from around the region, country and world. Featuring thoroughbreds and quarter horses, the races run August 18-20 with parimutuel betting. This will mark the 82nd year of this long-time tradition that originated in 1934.

The Ely Volunteer Firefighter’s Barbecue at 5 p.m. on Aug. 18 at the White Pine County Fairgrounds helps kick off the festivities with a one-of-a-kind dinner, raising money for White Pine County graduates.

“Visitors will get a true taste of White Pine County,” said Caroline McIntosh White Pine County Tourism and Recreation board member. “The food – unlike anything else – represents years of tinkering and perfecting and is served up by the fire department and their family and friends.”

Dating back 70 years, the White Pine County Fair is put on by Beta Sigma Phi, showcasing local artists and 4H participants. Vendors, great food and entertainment makes this an event that brings everyone together Aug. 19 and 20.

“The White Pine County Fair represents rural Nevada’s western history at its finest,” said White Pine County Fair organizer Tracy Robinson. “The whole community gets involved to put on the best event possible – we’re a tight-knit community and we want to share our authentic traditions by putting on an event that visitors and the community will appreciate.”

White Pine County’s Ranch Rodeo on Aug. 18 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. is born out of the day-to-day work of ranchers of the region – making it stand out from other rodeos across the west. Free to spectators, the rodeo will also be at the fairgrounds.

“The rodeo showcases the ranching lifestyle and the culture of White Pine County,” said Cody Coombs, a ranch rodeo organizer. “Visitors will get a glimpse into the inner workings of a ranch.”

What makes this year’s festivities truly unique is the solar eclipse, which will be celebrated in Ely onboard the Eclipse Express Train Ride, departing the Nevada Northern Railway museum at 9:15 a.m. Aug. 21.

In Ely, the eclipse will reach 83 percent coverage, and a $39 ticket buys passengers special eclipse glasses making it safe to view the solar event.

Other fun events include the Dinosaur Races on Aug. 17 from 5 to 9 p.m. at the Elks Lodge, the 4-H Livestock Show and Auction Aug. 19 and 20, and the Team Roping Event Aug. 19 after the races.

Press release provided by the City of Ely, Nevada. To find out more about Ely, visit