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Elko Events: From Basques and balloons to cowboy poets

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posted January 12, 2019
When the Transcontinental Railroad was completed 150 years ago, Elko, Nevada, became a hub for ranchers and cowboys. This high desert community, located in the northern part of the state, pays homage to its Western roots—and other aspects of its rich culture—with a number of annual festivals, including the following six:

National Cowboy Poetry Gathering

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(January) This popular event brings together entertainers and enthusiasts for six days of poetry, music, dancing, workshops, exhibits, conversations, food and fellowship rooted in the traditions of the rural West.

California Trail Days

Trail Days
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(May) The California Trail Interpretive Center is the site for this weekend festival, which highlights aspects of early pioneer life around Elko and showcases the culture of the Shoshone people.

Elko Mining Expo

(June) One of the oldest and most respected mining gatherings in the U.S., the expo draws close to 8,000 people from across the globe each year. 2019 will mark the 35th installment of this popular event.

National Basque Festival

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(June) Elko celebrates Basque culture at the end of June with three days of activities. Festival-goers can watch traditional dancing and athletic competitions, and sample authentic Basque cuisine.

Ruby Mountain Balloon Festival

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(September) Each autumn, balloon pilots and enthusiasts converge on Elko to enjoy wide-open balloon flying at the foot of northern Nevada’s majestic Ruby Mountains.

Rides & Rods Elko Classic Car Show

(September) This show transports guests back in time to the days of muscle cars and hot rods. In addition to seeing all the classic automobiles and motorcycles, guests can enjoy competitions, live music and food stands.

For more information, contact Tom Lester of the Elko Convention & Visitors Authority or go to

Top photo: Ruby Mountain Balloon Festival
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